- (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)
Prince Harry, 27, has arrived at a U.S. military base in California to begin his last phase of helicopter gunship training, according to a UK Ministry of Defense statement Friday.
It was only last week that it was announced that the prince was expected to spend two months in Gila Bend, Ariz., for intensive military training.
According to officials, the practice maneuvers will be split between Gila Bend and Naval Air Facility El Centro in Southern California.
Harry will commence live-fire training, which is to be combined with environmental and judgment training, according to CNN.
The assignment is to complete two months of pilot training, in which the prince will have advanced closer to becoming combat ready and possibly returning to the front lines of Afghanistan, where the bulk of pilots and crews who have successfully completed their Apache helicopter training are deployed.
If Prince Harry and the 19 other soldiers he will be training alongside are successful, they will be designated as "limited combat ready" and will have four to six months of additional exercises in England before becoming fully prepared.
The helicopter exercises will require the group of 20 British airmen to incorporate lessens they have received in 14 months of training.
The detailed announcement of the young prince's military itinerary is in contrast to the cloak of secrecy surrounding his first expected deployment to Afghanistan in 2008.
According to the Telegraph, Prince 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.
Prince Harry is the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He is the third in the line of succession to the British throne. His brother, William, also serves in the military, but is barred from combat due to being second in line to the throne.