Published : 2013-01-22 18:51
Updated : 2013-01-22 18:51
LONDON (AFP) ― Britain’s Prince Harry said he killed Taliban fighters during his stint as a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan, in comments that can be reported after he completed his tour of duty Monday.
Harry, third in line to the throne, spent a 20-week posting flying scores of missions over the restive southern Helmand Province in an Apache attack chopper.
The 28-year-old said Islamist insurgents were put “out of the game” and described life in Britain’s sprawling Camp Bastion base, where he slept in a tent and a shipping container.
Asked by Britain’s Press Association if he had killed from the cockpit, Harry said: “Yeah, so lots of people have.
“The squadron’s been out here. Everyone’s fired a certain amount.
“Take a life to save a life,” he shrugged. “That’s what we revolve around, I suppose.
“If there’ people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.
“As soon as we’re outside the fence, we’re in the thick of it.
“We fire when we have to ... but essentially we’re more of a deterrent than anything else.”
Harry spoke to reporters on three occasions during his time in Afghanistan under an agreement which only allowed the interviews to be released once he left the war zone.
The prince supported allied troops fighting the Taliban at close quarters and accompanied British and U.S. helicopters on missions to evacuate casualties.
As co-pilot in the Apache, Harry was in charge of the weapons systems in the two-man cockpit, firing Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, rockets and a 30-millimeter gun.
“It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said.
When on a shift requiring a high level of readiness, Harry and the other three members of his squadron sprinted to their helicopters in less than 45 seconds and were airborne within five minutes of an alert.
They did not know their missions until they were inside their 45-million pound ($71 million) aircraft.
Harry served in the 130-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
He insisted that his life in Camp Bastion was ”as normal as it’s going to get,” although the prince admitted he was frustrated by staring from fellow troops he had not previously met.
”I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawp, and that’s one thing that I dislike about being here,“ he said.
Harry admitted he would rather be out on the ground again in a small patrol base with the Household Cavalry regiment.
In his previous stint in Afghanistan, before he trained as a pilot, he served 10 weeks in 2007-2008 coordinating air attacks on the Taliban, although the deployment had to be hastily cut short when a news blackout on his deployment was broken.