Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 14:41 UK

Prince Harry to train on Apache attack helicopters

Prince Harry
Prince Harry is keen to return to the front line in Afghanistan

Prince Harry has been selected to train on the Apache attack helicopter, St James's Palace has said.

The move follows the successful completion of his Army pilots course, and he is now qualified to fly Lynx and Apache helicopters.

It is not known if this could affect the chances of the prince returning to serve in Afghanistan.

He will spend a training period with one of the Apache regiments based at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk.

The 25-year-old prince, an officer with the Household Cavalry Regiment, said it was a "huge honour" to train on the Apache.

He received his provisional wings from his father, the Prince of Wales, in a ceremony at the AAC's Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, to mark his graduation from his Army helicopter training course.

Prince Harry will begin the Apache training course in July at the flying school at Middle Wallop, where he will be based for eight months.

He will then spend a similar period under instruction with an Apache regiment in Suffolk - his wings will be confirmed once he has completed his training.

'Mountain to climb'

The prince also said the Apache is an "awesome helicopter".

"There is still a huge mountain for me to climb if I am to pass the Apache training course. To be honest, I think it will be one of the biggest challenges in my life so far.

"I am very determined, though, as I do not want to let down people who have shown faith in my ability to fly this aircraft on operations. It is a seriously daunting prospect but I can't wait."

Prince Harry decided to become a pilot to increase his changes of being redeployed and began his flying training with the Army Air Corps last January.

His previous role in Afghanistan, where he spent 10 weeks in Helmand province in 2007-8, was as a forward air controller directing air strikes.

UK forces in Helmand have used the Apache to hunt Taliban fighters, gather intelligence and provide cover for larger Chinook helicopters.

The prince said in June last year that flying a helicopter was "my easiest way of getting back to the front line".

He added: "Maybe safer, maybe not, I don't know. To get out to Afghanistan again would be fantastic and my best chance is to do it from a helicopter."



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