JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
The stealth bomber will replace the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit to provide strategic deterrence for emerging global threats. It’s expected to enter service in the mid-2020s with a production goal of a minimum of 100 aircraft.
The acquisition of the B-21 by the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office put the bomber on a faster track than previous fielding of new aircraft. It went from contract award to public rollout in seven years, and the AFIMSC team was ready when their role in the process began in 2019.
With numerous processes involved, AFIMSC Detachment 10, which provides direct support to AFGSC and its installations, plays the central role in providing B-21 basing and beddown program support. The detachment is collocated with AFGSC headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The detachment team also serves as the integrator that coordinates the whole-of-AFIMSC effort to ensure all requirements are met.
“We’ve been engaged in the B-21 basing strategy since its inception acting as a liaison to AFGSC,” said Col. Martin Pantazé, Det. 10 commander. “AFGSC commanders rely heavily on our knowledge and expertise to deliver installation and mission support operations and synchronize a wide scope of activities.”
Working closely with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, a subordinate unit of AFIMSC, DAF RCO, AFGSC installations and execution agents, the Det. 10 team provides support in many areas to include identifying requirements, planning resources, providing cost estimates, programming, environmental support and design and construction management.
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, one of three B-21 main operating bases and the location for the formal training unit, is the first base with projects underway. Detachment 10 members are documenting lessons learned there to apply at the other B-21 locations: MOBs at Dyess AFB, Texas, and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, and depot maintenance at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Pantazé said the team will continuously make changes and improvements throughout the program beddown to better synchronize work and make it more cost efficient.
The AFCEC team is charged with conducting the environmental process and leading facilities and infrastructure construction.
Since September 2021, the AFCEC facility engineering team has been making steady construction progress at Ellsworth AFB.
“We plan to deliver everything from new facilities to supporting infrastructure with a mix of new construction and renovation projects to support the airframe, personnel and operations,” said Tom Hodges, AFCEC Mobility and Materiel Military Construction Branch chief.
The program at Ellsworth will construct or renovate more than 20 major facilities, providing resilient infrastructure to support Raider operations for decades to come.
“What we do is not easy, and a program of this magnitude requires having the right people with the right expertise to provide timely and effective design and construction execution,” said Col. George Nichols, AFCEC Facility Engineering Directorate deputy director. “Every major beddown we’ve executed is a team sport, and to stay on track we unify our efforts with a multitude of stakeholders to meet the strategic mission requirements.”
The directorate provides construction planning support for military construction and facility sustainment, restoration and modernization projects. It also conducts design and construction management for the projects at all three B-21 MOB locations of Ellsworth, Dyess AFB, Texas, and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, in addition to the future maintenance depot at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
AFCEC’s Environmental Directorate provides site evaluation and analysis to help DAF decision makers understand the potential beddown impacts. Following completion of the Environmental Impact Statement to determine Ellsworth as the first MOB location in June 2021, environmental experts are now working through the same process at Dyess and Whiteman.
The environmental evaluation includes the effects associated with infrastructure construction, demolition and renovations along with added personnel and changes in aircraft operations.
To ensure mission-ready infrastructure is in place for the arrival of first B-21 aircraft at Ellsworth, AFCEC works alongside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District to accomplish the construction work on time.
“Our teamwork is fundamental to establishing an effective construction plan,” Hodges said. “Together, we’re well into planning, design and execution stages for many projects at Ellsworth.”
The largest of the nine projects is a low observable restoration facility scheduled for completion in November 2024. Other projects include a mission operation planning facility, field training detachment facility, formal training unit, two maintenance hangars and a flight simulator facility, which are all expected to be operational between 2025 and 2026.
Nine more MILCON and five more FSRM projects in the Ellsworth AFB portfolio are in the design and acquisition phase. AFCEC will be awarding some of the FSRM efforts in 2024 and is planning to award all MILCON projects in the 2024-2026 timeframe.