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Crew members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 receive an early-morning briefing on the day's raid on sites within the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
Crew members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 receive an early-morning briefing on the day's raid on sites within the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
Crew members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 receive an early-morning briefing on the day's raid on sites within the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
Crew members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 receive an early-morning briefing on the day's raid on sites within the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Spitz, left, crew chief instructor aboard the Huey, shows a trainee crew chief how to prepare ammo for the helicopter's M240 machine gun at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Spitz, left, crew chief instructor aboard the Huey, shows a trainee crew chief how to prepare ammo for the helicopter's M240 machine gun at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
A 2.75-inch rocket is removed from a transport case at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
A 2.75-inch rocket is removed from a transport case at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
A 2.75-inch rocket is loaded and locked into place on a Huey helicopter's right rocket port by two Marines, July 21, 2016, at a forward arming and refueling point at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.
A 2.75-inch rocket is loaded and locked into place on a Huey helicopter's right rocket port by two Marines, July 21, 2016, at a forward arming and refueling point at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
Marine Lance Cpl. Tiffany Moran has her first try at firing a M240 machine gun aboard a Huey helicopter during a tactical approach at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
Marine Lance Cpl. Tiffany Moran has her first try at firing a M240 machine gun aboard a Huey helicopter during a tactical approach at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
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.
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)
Smoke billows up from the detonation points of three 2.75-inch rockets fired from a Huey helicopter at a target below on the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016.
Smoke billows up from the detonation points of three 2.75-inch rockets fired from a Huey helicopter at a target below on the live-fire range of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2016. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)
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.
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)

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

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