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Prince Harry returns to England after U.S. training

By Max Foster, CNN
November 29, 2011 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
Prince Harry stands in front of an Apache helicopter on March 21, 2011, a few days after he was promoted to the rank of captain.
Prince Harry stands in front of an Apache helicopter on March 21, 2011, a few days after he was promoted to the rank of captain.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Harry has been learning to fly Apache helicopters
  • He completed seven weeks of training in the US and could be deployed to Afghanistan
  • His brother William is a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot

London (CNN) -- Prince Harry has returned to England from military training in the United States, the British defense ministry said Tuesday.

The younger son of Prince Charles spent just over seven weeks in California and Arizona for the final phase of helicopter gunship training. He returned home Monday, the ministry said.

Next, he will head to Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk, southeast England, to complete his training to fly Apache helicopters.

He will now "carry out a further short exercise before completing the Apache Conversion to Role course," the Ministry of Defence said.

Capt. Harry Wales, as he is known in the military, trained at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, and Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Air Field in Arizona.

When he completes pilot training, Prince Harry could possibly return to the front lines of Afghanistan, where the majority of pilots and crews successfully completing the Apache helicopter training are deployed, said British Army Lt. Col. Peter Bullen.

The prince and his mates have four to six months more of training in England before they are considered fully combat ready, depending on their squadron's schedule, Bullen said.

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 But he was withdrawn in February 2008 after news of his deployment broke.

His brother, Prince William, is also in the military, as an army officer. But as second in line for the throne, he is specifically barred from combat.

William is a search and rescue pilot based in Wales, and participated in a helicopter rescue of sailors from a sinking ship over the weekend.

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

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