Prince Harry fires 100lb Hellfire missile in Afghanistan airstrike attack on the TalibanGunship co-pilot, 27, unleashed missile in October airstrike
Apache unit has the highest ‘kill rate’ in the war
12:19 GMT, 23 December 2012
Apache co-pilot Prince Harry was responsible for unleashing the 100lb Hellfire missile
Apache co-pilot Prince Harry launched a missile attack on the Taliban in a devastating airstrike in Afghanistan.
The 27-year-old was called in to provide air support to troops and discharged a 100lb Hellfire missile.
The attack happened in late October, shortly after the prince returned to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty as gunship co-pilot.
Captain Harry Wales – as he is known in
the Army – is a co-pilot gunner in the Apache unit which has the highest ‘kill rate’ in the war.
As the co-pilot gunner, Harry commands missions, fire the weapons, navigates and sometimes take over the controls.
two-crew gunship – nicknamed the ‘flying tank’ – is used by UK forces
in Afghanistan to smash the Taliban, gather intelligence and provide
support for soldiers on the ground.
Harry learned to fly Apache
helicopters during an 18-month training course in February.
A spokesman for the Ministry of
Defence said: 'We do not comment on an individual's deployment in Afghanistan.'
Harry – who has been dubbed ‘the
party prince’ – was keen to return to Afghanistan after his first tour
of duty was cut short in 2008.
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Back in action: Prince Harry is shown the Apache flight-line by a member of his squadron at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, where he will be operating from during his tour of duty as a co-pilot gunner
The prince had been secretly deployed
with the Household Cavalry as a forward air controller directing
bombing strikes against insurgents for ten weeks.
His time there was cut short when news of his presence was leaked on foreign websites and he was brought back to Britain.
Harry was so determined to do another tour of duty that he retrained as
an Apache pilot in the hope it would increase his chances of being
Powerful: Harry wanders past the weapons that he will be using to fight the Taliban
The Queen and
Prince of Wales were fully briefed about his return to the war zone.
Prince Charles was ‘immensely proud’ of his son, said St James’s Palace.
The third in line has offered to take help out by carving a huge turkey to dish out to hundreds
of junior soldiers at Camp Bastion.
It is a tradition for officers
to treat lower ranks to their meal on Christmas Day, but will be in
strict contrast to the lavish meal the Apache pilot has served up by
butlers every year at Sandringham with the royal family.
Tough job: A serious looking Harry ducks near his Apache and then right he discusses what he will be doing with a colleague
Good to go: Harry said his goodbyes to his family this week and flew out earlier this week
PRINCE PUTS HIS 18 MONTHS OF TRAINING INTO PRACTICE
After more than 18 months learning to fly one of the world's deadliest helicopters, Prince Harry will soon put his training into practice.
The Apache is used in a number of roles in Afghanistan but all revolve around its devastating firepower.
Harry will act as the aircraft's co-pilot gunner operating its arsenal of weapons from the front seat, while behind him will be the pilot.
Missions will involve targeting the Taliban in support of ground troops who have come under attack from insurgents.
With its payload of laser-guided Hellfire missiles, it can target buildings being used for cover by the Taliban, reducing them to rubble. And for enemy out in the open, the aircraft's 30mm chain gun can be controlled from the gunner's helmet-mounted display.
Other missions include providing escort cover for aircraft, usually RAF Chinooks, that may be carrying troops or equipment around Afghanistan. Again its compliment of weapons, which include wing-mounted aerial rockets, will ward off Taliban attacks from the ground and if there are any salvos from enemy fighters, they will be returned with interest.
The Apache can operate in most weather and at night, so can be used to gather intelligence in many conditions.
spokesman added: ‘He [Harry] has approached the deployment with a range
of emotions like any other soldier and feels both pride and
anticipation as he deploys for a job he’s trained for, for so long.
Harry, like any soldier, considers it a great honour to represent his
country in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces wherever it chooses to deploy
The Prince will add some royal cheer to festive celebrations at Camp Bastion next week by serving up Christmas lunch.
hard work, Prince Harry will be able to sit down at the bright-decorated
trestle tables and eat with his comrades.
And then after lunch he will spend Christmas Day with the Royle Family – even though he is 4,000 miles away in Afghanistan.
BBC comedy will air in Camp Bastion via the British Forces Broadcasting
Service – and Harry is expected to watch it after his daily duties as
an Apache helicopter pilot.
The 28-year-old will later have the opportunity to talk to his family on video-calling software Skype.
Recently Prince Charles has admitted being wracked with worry while his
officer sons are serving on the frontline, telling families of the armed
forces 'I really do understand' during an emotional speech.
Prince of Wales told families at a military awards evening how he had to
persuade his youngest son to write to him, but that fortunately 'he calls every now
Charles, 64, who was speaking at The Sun's Military
Awards event, held to honour the bravery of the armed forces, said: 'As
you can imagine being a parent of two boys in the armed forces, I do
share with you the worry and anxiety of not knowing the exact details of
our children's whereabouts.'
Son Prince William also serves as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.
Walk by: The Prince will be in Afghanistan for four months and will even celebrate his birthday
Chat: The prince has been desperate to get back to Afghanistan because he wants to be treated like any other soldier
Dangerous: As another helicopter comes in to land Harry discusses what he'll be doing until the end of the year
VIDEO An insight into Harry's life as an Apache co-pilot in Afghanistan
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HARRY: APACHE ATTACK HELICOPTER I'LL BE FLYING IS 'AWESOME'
In Prince Harry's words, the Apache attack helicopter is simply 'awesome'.
Designed to hunt and destroy tanks, the fearsome Apache is capable of flying at 205mph and boasts a mix of weapons including a wing-mounted aerial rocket, Hellfire laser-guided missiles and a 30mm chain gun.
Seen as the attack aircraft of choice in Afghanistan, it is heralded as one of the most important weapons systems to enter service with the Army since the tank in 1916, and is said to have significantly increased the force's operational capability.
It can fly in all weathers from Arctic cold to desert heat, operate day or night, and detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in seconds.
Harry said he faced one of the biggest challenges of his life in 2010 as he prepared to embark on his training to fly the robust twin-engine, aerial weapons platform.
'It is a huge honour to have the chance to train on the Apache, which is an awesome helicopter,” he revealed at the time.
He added: 'To be honest, I think it will be one of the biggest challenges in my life so far.'
The Prince completed his training in February, including a stint in the US where he learned to fire the aircraft's lethal missiles for the first time, facing dusty conditions similar to Afghanistan.
This final stage of training was an eight-week intensive exercise at El Centro in the Californian desert, where much of the 1986 movie Top Gun was filmed.
The aircraft is operated with two crew members – a pilot and co-pilot gunner who usually operates the weapon systems.
Harry, known as Captain Wales in the Army, won a prize for being the best co-pilot gunner during his 18 months of rigorous training.
The Apache is powered by two Rolls-Royce engines with built-in particle separators for desert operations.
The first British Apaches, built by AgustaWestland based in Yeovil, Somerset, came into service with the Army Air Corps (AAC) in 2001 and went on to be widely used in Afghanistan.
UK forces in Helmand Province have employed the aircraft to hunt and kill Taliban fighters, gather intelligence and provide cover for larger Chinook helicopters transporting troops and vital supplies.
It uses night vision systems and CCD TV target trackers and is also fitted with high-tech radar and thermal imaging equipment that allows the crew of two to pinpoint targets with great accuracy even if they are hidden behind foliage.
The Apache was also deployed in Libya in support of Nato operations.
The helicopter was involved in a daring rescue mission in Afghanistan in January 2007, when four British servicemen strapped themselves to the outside of two Apaches to recover the body of a dead comrade in Helmand.
The four marines went to the aid of Lance Corporal Mathew Ford hoping he was still alive after he went missing following an attack on a Taliban fort. They were hailed for their bravery.