Ellsworth commander provides update on base, mission

  • Published
  • By Steven Merrill
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Col. Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing commander, hosted a “State of Ellsworth” address for local media agencies Feb. 12, 2024.

During the address, Oakley gave updates on several key issues ranging from the latest details of the B-1B Lancer crash which occurred on Jan. 4, 2024, to the airstrikes base aircrews conducted Feb. 2, 2024, to current and upcoming military construction projects related to the B-21 Raider as well as the base’s impact on the surrounding community.

As part of his update on the Jan. 4 crash, he applauded the support of the surrounding community and the high caliber care provided to the aviators involved in the accident.

Further into the update, he provided additional information about the base’s history for media members who were visiting the installation for the first time.

“We have a rich history tied to the historic Doolittle Raid, which was the start of long-range strike, something we continue to execute today, as evidenced by what we accomplished Feb. 2,” Oakley said.

He explained how the mission being accomplish by the Raiders of the 28th Bomb Wing directly impacts the world – assuring our allies and partners while deterring our adversaries.

Oakley also talked about the current and planned construction projects on base related to the B-21 Raider. He noted there are over 35 projects – 11 projects already awarded including both military construction (MILCON) and Facility, Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization renovation (FSRM) projects.

“The underlying strategy for the B-21 bed down at Ellsworth is to reuse existing facilities to the maximum extent practical – optimizing re-usage, new construction and selective demolition of facilities,” he said.

Ellsworth is expecting to begin construction of 14 MILCON facilities and 12 FSRM facilities/renovations between fiscal year 2024 and FY 2036.

He noted the future B-21 fleet (a minimum of 100 aircraft) is designed to replace both the B-1 and the B-2 fleets with new penetrating deep strike conventional and nuclear capabilities. The number of how many aircraft type at a certain base has not been determined.

“Six test aircraft are being produced now,” he said. “The test aircraft are being built on the same production line, using the same tools, processes and technicians that will build the production aircraft.”

The commander said that in addition to accomplishing the base’s mission of providing long range strike – anytime, anywhere, the base is committed to establishing itself as a solid local community partner and giving back. He said he felt it was particularly important for Airmen to participate in events, do volunteer work and help improve the quality of life for area communities.

“Service before self is one of our core values,” Oakley said. “It’s an important part of who we are as Airmen. In October, we adopted Veteran’s Point at Pactola. It helps get our Airmen involved and shows our commitment to the environment. That’s important.”

He added the base is also planning to do a Service Before Self Day on April 26. Airmen from across the base will team up with community partners to complete volunteer projects throughout the area. Additional details will be provided as they become available.

Following his presentation, Oakley answered several questions tied to base housing, future growth expected with the onboarding of the B-21 mission, as well as further explanation of the timeline for the results of the B-1B crash investigation.

After the event, media were provided a tour of construction sites of future B-21 facilities to get a better understanding of the scope of work being done on Ellsworth. The base was designated Main Operating Base 1 – the first to receive the B-21 Raider – with an expected arrival in the mid-2020s.

For more information about Ellsworth Air Force Base, visit: www.ellsworth.af.mil.