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Apaches: Next stop for Prince Harry

world Updated: Aug 21, 2011 12:14 IST

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Prince Harry may have the Queen's backing to return to Afghanistan, but he faces one tough test before his second stint in the war-ravaged country to take on the Taliban again, a media report said.

The 26-year-old Apache helicopter pilot will embark on his most gruelling training yet when he flies to the US to learn how to use his attack chopper awesome weaponry, the Sunday Express reported.

Army captain Harry will spend eight weeks in the desert this autumn to prepare him for being redeployed to the front line. The exercise, code-named Crimson Eagle, will see Harry take to the skies to familiarise himself with the hot and dusty conditions he will face in Afghanistan.

Based at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, in California's Imperial Valley, the third-in-line to the British throne will be tested on his desert landing technique as well as being put through his paces with day and night flying sorties through hazardous mountain terrain.

He will move to the Gila Bend Auxiliary Air Force Base in the Arizona desert for the second part of the training to be tested on his knowledge of the aircraft weapons systems with a live firing exercise, the report said.

A ministry of defence source was quoted as saying, "Harry will be assessed on every sortie. They are given a pass or fail on all their flying training so it is very intense and very gruelling but it has to be. One or two have already dropped out of Harry's intake but now the dropout rate is less because they have come that much further."

Harry was forced to return to Britain from Afghanistan in 2008 after an Australian magazine breached a news blackout and disclosed his whereabouts.