Britain's Harry passes helicopter course

30th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince Harry has passed his army helicopter pilot's course, his office said Friday, boosting his hopes of returning to frontline fighting in Afghanistan.

The 25-year-old, third in line to the throne, was told Thursday that he had completed his training.

He has until his graduation ceremony next Friday to decide whether he would prefer to fly the Lynx or Apache helicopter, though the final decision rests with his military commanders.

"Prince Harry is very pleased," said a spokesman for his St James's Palace office.

"He will give the matter serious consideration over the next few days before inputting his preference."

Harry served with the British army for 10 weeks in Afghanistan in 2007-2008, before a media blackout broke down and palace officials decided it would be too dangerous for him to remain.

He has made no secret of his wish to return to the front line.

"To get out to Afghanistan again would be fantastic and my best chance is to do it from a helicopter," he said in June.

The prince has been training on the Squirrel helicopter and will have spent more than 90 hours in the air during the 22- week course.

He completed a final handling test on Thursday.

"Instructors assessed Prince Harry as capable of being an Apache or a Lynx pilot," the palace spokesman said.

The Apache is used to hunt and kill Taliban insurgents, gather intelligence and provide cover helicopter transport missions.

The versatile Lynx is used for reconnaissance and to transport troops.

© 2010 AFP

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