RAPID CITY, S.D. — A project years in the making, Ellsworth Air Force Base has broken ground for the first of three dozen major projects that will support the incoming long-range B-21 bomber.

The 95,000-square-foot Low Observable Restoration Facility, or LO, will have “specialized equipment to ensure that the free world’s next generation stealth bomber is sustained and maintained,” said Gen. Anthony Cotton, Air Force Global Strike Commander.

“We are the only ally in the free world that has bombers,” he said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, emphasizing the global significance of the B-21, and the mission of Air Force Global Strike Command.

28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Joseph Sheffield called the event not only a great day for South Dakota, but also for the United States.

“We’re here because simply, our nation needs us to be here,” he said in reference to a new level of violence escalating from nuclear-capable Russia and China, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“And guess what? That’s why we’re here today,” Sheffield said. “Foundational to our nation’s strategic deterrence is our powerful and ready long-range strike force.”

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson called the B-21 an important part of this nation’s military history.

“China and Russia have the capacity to strike us almost anywhere in the world, almost anytime they want,” Johnson said. “It is important that we have deterrence. It’s important that we have platforms like the B-21 that can project American force across the globe at a moment’s notice.”

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