Prince Harry `qualifies as Apache pilot`

Prince Harry passed a tough 10-month course to fly the attack helicopter.

Updated: Mar 11, 2011, 00:41 AM IST

London: Prince Harry, the third in line to
the British throne, is now a qualified elite Apache helicopter
pilot and may return to Afghanistan as early as next year.

The 26-year-old Royal, whose official title is Lieutenant
Wales of the Army Air Corps, passed a stringent 10-month
course to fly the attack helicopter and has been described as
a natural flier, the Telegraph reported.

The Apache`s weaponry includes Hellfire missiles and
laser-guided canons. Only the most talented trainees are
offered the chance to fly the helicopter, which are each worth
35 million pound.

Prince Harry could be eligible to return to the front
line for a combat position in Afghanistan from Spring 2012,
the report said.

The Prince received his flying wings in May last year,
before enlisting in a "conversion to type" course at the Army
Air Corps Base in Middle Wallop, Hampshire.

He spent the final weeks of his course flying in the
French Alps -- skills which would prove vital if he returns to
Afghanistan where much of the fighting takes place at high

A spokesman for the young royal said that he was
"delighted" to have qualified.

Prince Harry has been modest about his abilities as a
pilot in the past speaking about the academic challenges posed
by qualifying.

"There`s times when I thought, I`m really not cut out
for this, mentally.

"I hope I`ve got the physical skills to fly a helicopter.
But mentally, there are the exams and everything," he had

Harry served in Helmand for 10 weeks amid a strict press
blackout in 2008, but was withdrawn from service after news of
his deployment was disclosed by foreign media.

He has made no secret of his desire to return to the
country on active service.

British troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by