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Afghanistan diary: Day Three

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter in Afghanistan

All week Newsbeat is with British troops in Afghanistan for a series of special reports on life in one of the world's most dangerous countries. In her third diary entry, Sima Kotecha gets to grips with one of the most powerful bits of kit in the Army Air Corps.

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What's it like to fly an Apache?

I love the film Top Gun. I couldn't stop thinking about it as I was shown the Apache helicopter - the pride of the Army Air Corps. It's one of a small fleet of these helicopters which give close air support to troops on patrol.

The black beasts line the runway - full of menace and silent power. They're raring to go if need be. The two person crews know the drill and are off the ground in minutes.

Apache facts
Crew: 2
Length: 9.53m
Height: 3.1m
Armament: 16 x Hellfire missiles, 76 x 2.75 CRV-7 rockets, 1200 x 30mm cannon rounds, 4 x air-to-air missiles
Primary roles: Protect troops on the ground and escort the Chinook
The only attack helicopter in service with the British military
Designed to hunt and destroy tanks

It can operate in all weathers - day or night, and pick out and prioritise more than 250 targets in a matter of seconds.

We chatted to 25-year-old Lieutenant Jim Trayhorn who flies one.

He said: "I wanted to be a pilot and I always wanted to fly the Apache so I signed up to the Army Air Corps.

"I love the Apache because of its exposure and the role it does. I prefer the challenge it presents."

The RAF Chinook pilots and their British Army Apache counterparts have a playful rivalry. Both bragged to Newsbeat they were the better airmen. Typical inter-service rivalry!

But when it comes down to the serious stuff, and lives are at risk, the pilots say they work together as a team.

From the way they interact, there seems to be an almost intimate understanding between them. After all, they're here to serve the same purpose.



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