(7 Sep 2012) Prince Harry, the playboy prince who is third in line to the British throne, flew into southern Afghanistan on Friday to take a dangerous combat role in a four-month tour of duty as an attack helicopter co-pilot gunner.
The 27-year-old, known for his wild lifestyle, which last month saw embarrassing naked photos emerge of him in a Las Vegas hotel room, is returning to Afghanistan for a second tour.
He is scheduled to begin operations within 10 days in the country's restive Helmand province.
Looked relaxed, if slightly tired, Harry gave a thumbs-up after a long journey to Britain's Camp Bastion, a sprawling desert base close to the town of Lashkar Gah, on a troop carrier flight from England.
Capt. Harry Wales, as he is known in the military, wore his combat uniform upon arrival and joined his 100-strong unit, the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, mainly based in Helmand province, and has suffered 425 deaths since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.
The prince's previous posting as a battlefield air traffic controller in Afghanistan in late 2007 and early 2008 lasted only 10 weeks, cut short after his secret deployment was made public.
He had become the first member of the British royal family to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands conflict with Argentina in 1982.
Britain's defence ministry said it had chosen to confirm Harry's deployment on this occasion after a threat assessment concluded that acknowledging his presence in Afghanistan would not put the royal or his colleagues at further risk.
In an interview in March this year, Harry insisted he was eager to return to combat after training to fly Apache helicopters at U.S. bases in California and southern Arizona.
In May 2007, the British military prevented Harry from heading out on a planned six-month tour of duty to Iraq because the risks to his safety were deemed too great.
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