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Prince Harry, aka ‘Capt. Wales,’ due in California for training - Prince Harry to begin Apache helicopter training in California - Prince Harry In U.S. For Attack Helicopter Training

Prince Harry, aka 'Capt. Wales,' due in California for training

'He will be treated like any other British pilot,' a U.S. commanding officer says

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EL CENTRO, Calif. — Prince Harry will arrive in the United States next week to begin a two-month military helicopter training course to prepare him for combat.

The prince, who is a British Army captain, will start at the Naval Air Facility at El Centro where he will fly Apache helicopters in the remote California desert near the Mexican border. The facility hosts allied troops throughout the year because its hot, dusty conditions replicate Afghanistan's harsh environment and the clear weather allows for constant flying.

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"He will be Capt. Wales when he is here," said Capt. Devon Jones, the U.S. commanding officer at the facility. "He will be treated like any other British pilot."

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The prince will be among 20 students in the British Army participating in the training that ends at an Air Force station in Gila Bend, Ariz., where they will fire missiles, rockets and cannons from the Apache helicopters.

The course is the final phase of a 16-month training British Army pilots undergo to prepare for deployment.

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British Army Lt. Col. Peter Bullen said those who succeed still have a few final steps to complete in Great Britain before they are ready to be sent into combat.

He said the majority of troops who pass the training go on to be deployed to places like Afghanistan, where they will work alongside U.S. troops and coalition forces.

The prince and the other students will not be restricted from going off the bases during their free time, except like U.S. troops, they are barred from crossing the border into Mexico, Bullen said.
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El Centro's facility is the winter home of the Navy's Blue Angels and the site where the "Top Gun" movie starring Tom Cruise was filmed.

Prince Harry to begin Apache helicopter training in California

PRINCE Harry was preparing today for an eight-week intensive helicopter training program in California.

The course - codenamed Crimson Eagle and scheduled to begin at El Centro Naval Air Facility within the next few days - will take the 26-year-old pilot one step closer to front-line duties, Sky News said.

Known in his defence role as Captain Harry Wales, the prince has always made it clear that a prerequisite to his Apache helicopter training - which carries a £1 million ($1.54 million) price tag - is his return to theater.

He has been training at Britain's School of Aviation at Middle Wallop, south-west of London, but in order to be brought up to "battle ready" status, Prince Harry must complete a special Conversion to Role course.

"The training in the USA will consist of environmental training, live firing and tactical exercises," a St James's Palace spokesperson said.

El Centro NAF operates target ranges for aerial combat maneuvering, air-to-ground gunnery, bombing, electronic warfare training and low-level flying.

The British military has been training at the base - 140km east of San Diego - for more than 20 years. The prince's two-month stint will also see him work out of Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, another 275km east in neighbouring Arizona.

His time off will be limited during the tour, but it is traditional for those on Exercise Crimson Eagle to take a half-way break in Las Vegas.

After Prince Harry returns home in December, he will join one of the Apache squadrons and gain wider experience of flying the helicopter by taking part in exercises around the UK.


Prince Harry In U.S. For Attack Helicopter Training

Prince Harry -- Capt. Harry Wales, to his mates -- is coming to the U.S. Southwest this week to begin a two-month series of training exercises for British attack helicopter pilots.

The Apache crews will train at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California, about 90 miles east of San Diego, officials said.
The prince, 27, also will be training at the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field in southern Arizona.

It's part of a two-month series of maneuvers dubbed Exercise Crimson Eagle, in which British fliers will practice with the Apaches in terrain similar to southern Afghanistan, where some British troops are currently based.

Officials stress that Harry is coming as a serviceman, not as a potential heir to the throne.

"We are treating him like any other O3 (junior grade officer)," said Kristopher Haugh, deputy public affairs officer at the El Centro facility.

Still, it's possible that the prince, like others who train in the area, may frequent area clubs, restaurants, theaters or bowling alleys.

The El Centro Chamber of Commerce has asked businesses and restaurants to treat Harry with respect and safeguard his privacy.

The prince may also be drawn to outdoor diversions. According to Cathy Kennerson, chief executive officer of the Chamber, the area is known for off-roading, hiking, birdwatching and the Salton Sea, also in the agriculture-rich Imperial Valley.

Residents of the city of 42,000 will take the visit in stride, Kennerson said. "They just want to put their best foot forward."

Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and the late Princess Diana. He served on the front line in Afghanistan as a forward air controller and saw combat, but was withdrawn in February 2008 after news of his deployment broke.

Harry's brother, Prince William, is also an army officer. But as second in line for the throne, he is specifically barred from combat.
According to the Telegraph in London, Harry intends to return to Afghanistan next year after he completes his training. He has been told by flying instructors he has a "natural flair" for flying, the newspaper reported this summer.

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