US panel votes to spare S. Dakota air base B-1B bomber base

A U.S. commission considering the national overhaul of military installations rejected a Pentagon recommendation to close a B-1B bomber base in South Dakota and shift the warplanes to Texas.

The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, in its third day of deliberations in Arlington, Virginia, voted 8-1 to spare Ellsworth Air Force Base, located about seven miles east of Rapid City, and home to 24 B-1B bombers. The Air Force wanted to transfer the warplanes to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to consolidate the B-1B fleet, reports Bloomberg.

According to Washingtonpost, the decision to save the B-1 bomber base is good news for Sen. John Thune, the freshman Republican who defeated former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle last November based on his claims that he would be better positioned to save the base.

"This is a great day for South Dakota, but it's a great day for America," Thune told reporters immediately after the decision.

The nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted 8-1 to keep Ellsworth open, citing a lack of meaningful cost savings if its 24 bombers were moved to Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, coupled with a larger than estimated economic impact on the community.

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