Prince Harry chooses to fly Apache attack helicopters

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London, May 7 (ANI): Third-in-line to the British throne Prince Harry has chosen to fly Apache attack helicopters, a decision that could mean he will be making a rapid return to Afghanistan.

Harry, 25, had originally opted to fly Lynx helicopters, used for surveillance and passenger transport, but Royal sources have said he had a "last minute change of mind" and will fly Apache helicopters instead.

The decision could mean he returns to Helmand Province in the next year, once he passes the tough conversion course onto the military's most advanced helicopter.

The Army is said to be pleased with his decision, as there is still a shortage of pilots to man the 67 strong fleet of Apaches.

But it will raise constitutional questions, as the Prince, known as Lt Harry Wales, will almost certainly be involved in close combat.

The Apaches operate in an infantry support role in Helmand in which their 30mm cannon allied with highly accurate targeting systems means that they are regularly used to kill the enemy.

They are also equipped with Hellfire ground attack missiles and rocket pods that can cause devastation to Taliban snipers or vehicles.

However, there have been incidents in which Apaches have accidentally killed civilians or been involved in friendly fire incidents.

Harry, who is regarded as a highly accomplished pilot, will complete a conversion to type course at Middle Wallop, Hants, before he becomes a fully qualified Apache pilot.

"He's able to do it, he's keen to do it, he's skilled enough to do it and he will be allowed to do it," the Telegraph quoted a Royal source as saying.

Harry last served in Helmand for 10 weeks in 2008 as a forward air controller carrying out the highly skilled job of dropping bombs on the enemy.

However, a return to the front line is likely to lead to complications after he was forced to abandon his last operational tour when an American blogger ignored a media blackout request to reveal that he was in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry will be awarded his provisional wings, known as "brevet", after he successfully completed the demanding Operational Training Phase. (ANI)

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