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Hellfire missile caps Marines’ air-assault drill in Hawaii

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Spitz, the crew chief instructor aboard the Huey, delivers short bursts of machine-gun fire at a target below on the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.

WYATT OLSON/STARS AND STRIPES

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 21, 2016

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii — The enemy is imaginary. The rockets are real.

For the past week, the crews of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing have been plunging and banking Huey and Cobra helicopters over the jagged landscape of the live-fire range at Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii’s big island.

They’ve been firing machine guns, rockets and Hellfire missiles at an enemy force moving from east to the west in a scenario created for the Rim of the Pacific exercise, which will culminate in a massive amphibious landing on the island of Oahu at the end of the month.

The 109,000-acre training area, which is the largest U.S. military installation in the Pacific, affords Marine aviation units based on heavily populated Oahu the infrequent opportunity to use their full arsenal.

On the morning of July 20, the crews and several trainees of two helicopters, a Huey and a Cobra, spent about two hours circling above the firing range’s twisted volcanic-rock landscape. The Huey crew fired off hundreds of rounds from two M240 machine guns and a dozen 2.75-inch rockets.

The final assault came with the Cobra firing a Hellfire missile.

olson.wyatt@stripes.com
Twitter: @WyattWOlson

As viewed from the adjacent Huey, a Cobra attack helicopter fires a Hellfire missile at a target on the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
WYATT OLSON/STARS AND STRIPES

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