March Joint Reserve Base

It’s been over 40 years since I last visited this base – previously I was fortunate to get a ramp tour when Boeing B-52D’s and KC-135A’s were based there. Nowadays, the 452nd Air Mobility Wing operates two main types, which are the McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker.

The excellent and extensive March Field Air Museum (see separate report here) is on the western perimeter of the base and they offer some bleacher-style benches to watch the based aircraft on operations. The museum is normally closed on Mondays.

There are also a couple of spots off base on the runway approach paths at either end which gives good access for photos, although the sun tends to be tail-on to the aircraft in the mornings in the winter, with the light slowly improving as the day goes on.

I had come to March AFRB en route to Nellis AFB for Red Flag 24-1 which normally takes place in late January. What I didn’t know when I booked my trip was that this year the third week of Red Flag was a ‘dispersed week’, running as another exercise called Bamboo Eagle, with some participants either returning to their home base or relocating to other bases, while still continuing with the exercises.

Fortunately for me, one of the designated dispersal bases was March JRB, so I was pleased to find the the F-15E’s of the 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour-Johnson AFB, the F-16’s from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB and RAF 3 Squadron Typhoons had all relocated to here.

I therefore decided to return to the base on Monday, having visited the museum on the previous Sunday. Luckily for me, nearly all the Red Flag participants flew or at least attempted to – the RAF Typhoons taxied out but were held pending arrivals of a couple of Amazon Air Boeing 737’s, which caused them to miss their exercise slot time. A pity, because I don’t have that many images of RAF Typhoons, other than the display aircraft.

Also based at March JRB is the 163rd Attack Wing, with General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aircraft and Metrea, a consultancy company offering outsourcing of many activities, including air-to-air refuelling, using 4 ex-Singapore Air Force Boeing KC-153R Stratotankers, which are based at March

Lastly, Amazon AIr uses the airfield to supply nearby fulfilment centres., with regular cargo flights.

The disbursed Red Flag aircraft certainly increased the movement numbers – I’m not sure how busy the airfield is normally.