Fighter Jets Coming, Going from March Air Reserve Base in Combat Exercise
By PAUL J. YOUNG
City News Service
RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The frequent and unusual sights and sounds of combat jet aircraft streaking overhead have been present throughout the week in south Riverside, Moreno Valley and surrounding locations in connection with an exercise involving U.S. and foreign air forces temporarily situated at March Air Reserve Base.
March ARB officials posted a brief notice via Facebook on Jan. 26 regarding the operation, stating only that March would be “hosting a readiness exercise” and the public should expect “an increase in aircraft … noise within the area during the exercise.”
After several attempts to reach the base’s public affairs unit with questions, leading to a request for information from U.S. Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon, the unit finally responded Friday afternoon, telling City News Service “the exercise happening on the base … is not permanent and will be concluding soon.”
Combat jet traffic volume increased significantly beginning Saturday, with formations of two, four and six fighters departing March, generally on northbound and eastbound flight paths, multiple times daily and sometimes at night. The only pause was Thursday morning when storm cells swept through the Inland Empire.
“There are American, British and Canadian forces working alongside each other for this,” Riverside City Councilman Chuck Conder, a retired USAF officer, told CNS. “A lot of units are involved, including those based at Nellis Air Force Base, which is home to Red Flag.”
Red Flag entails intense air combat training.
“They chose March as a forward operating base,” Conder said. “It’s just an exercise, a way of getting to know each other, how they work, because they may have to join up some place in the world.”
Conder, who resides in the Canyon Crest quarter, within March’s airspace, said he has seen F-16s, F-15s and British Typhoon fighters.
“They’re learning how to work together,” he said, adding that he’d been informed the activity would conclude on Feb. 5.
“It’s not just flying. There are units practicing and learning logistics and finance,” he said. “It’s a great exercise for contractors. They’re learning how to do things in preparation for deployments. They would be responsible for setting up things the forces need across the board. There are many elements within the operation.”
The councilman said he had not received any complaints from constituents because of the increase in jet traffic noise, but there had been questions about “droning” at night in the vicinity of the base.
“Those are the C-130s, bringing in supplies and stuff,” Conder said.
March is principally an operations center for U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units. Combat jets are not permanently stationed at the base, which is managed by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, comprised of transports and air refueling platforms, like C-17 Globemasters and KC-135 Stratotankers.
Civilian cargo aircraft, including Boeing 757s and 767s, also come and go from the base regularly, adhering to noise abatement procedures.
Conder said this week’s combat jet activity is “semi-reminiscent of the Cold War days,” when F-4 Phantoms and other fighter aircraft were flying out of the base.
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