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Prince Harry 'just another trainee'

Prince Harry has begun the final stage of his Apache helicopter training in America, with the US military insisting he will be treated like any other trainee pilot.

The 28-year-old has already been taught to fly the Apache and will now put his skills to the test learning to use the aircraft's deadly firepower and pilot it tactically.

The Prince, a captain in the Army Air Corps, arrived in California on Thursday for Exercise Crimson Eagle, an eight-week intensive programme which will replicate the harsh environment of Afghanistan and involve the live firing of weapons.

Completing the course will give Harry, who has served in Afghanistan, the best chance of returning to frontline operations - something he has stressed he wants to do.

His training will start at the US Navy's airfield in El Centro, where he will fly the multimillion-pound aircraft in the remote California desert near the Mexican border.

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

The base hosts allied troops throughout the year because its hot, dusty conditions replicate Afghanistan's unforgiving conditions and the clear weather allows for constant flying.

Harry will have to complete various tactical scenarios, handling the Apache in mountainous and desert conditions, perfect dust landings and undergo limited power training during day and night.

A source described the prince as being "excited" about reaching the final stage of his course to learn to fly and operate the Apache.

The source said: "This is the culmination of 16 months of long hard training, it's what the course all works towards. He is ready to get out there and crack on with it, and whilst he is excited there is a sense of anticipation about the work ahead."

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