23rd December 2012
PRINCE Harry has killed his first Taliban commander, The Sun can reveal.
The 28-year-old gunship co-pilot was called on to unleash a missile strike to eliminate a senior terror leader.
Harry has proved a massive hit with comrades in Helmand, Afghanistan, who have nicknamed him Big H.
A defence insider said: "Big H is a legend.
“We were on patrol and the Apache helicopters were called in. We heard this posh voice come over the radio and knew it was Big H. They were tracking a Taliban leader — he was commander level.
"The Apache then let off some Hellfire missiles and its 30mm cannon and 'boom'. It was Big H all the way."
The Sun understands the decisive strike occurred in late October during a partnered patrol with Afghan troops hunting the Taliban chief.
Gunship co-pilot Harry is on tour in Helmand and has been flying daily combat missions helping "troops in contact" — the code given when ground forces are engaged by enemy fighters.
And 28-year-old Captain Wales has become a hugely popular figure with Our Boys. Our source added: "I met him in the cookhouse.
I saw this bloke standing in line and I went, 'That's Big H'.
"He's like a normal squaddie. All the guys in Afghan have so much respect for him and love him.
"Big H is a legend, he's been out in Afghan and he's doing the business. All the guys love him — he's Big H. "He likes a drink and a laugh and he's one of the lads."
News of the strike proves Harry is no passenger on the front line.
And he is not immune from the risk of being shot down on the deadly missions. Dad Prince Charles spoke of his anxiety for his soldier son at The Sun's Military Awards — watched by millions on ITV.
Charles, 64 — also dad to Harry's elder brother William — said: "The younger one is at this moment in Afghanistan. Fortunately, he rings me every now and then.
"And from time to time I've even persuaded him to write me a letter. "Because, I keep saying, if you write me a letter and not just an email or a text or something, in 30 years' time or 40 years' time that will be interesting history."
"I just make this point because I really do understand the worry of service families when their loved ones are away serving in somewhere like Afghanistan. It's almost easier for those serving away than for those left behind because you worry all the time.
"So I do appreciate the extraordinary resilience and the unbelievable support provided by the families back here who encourage and remind their loved ones that they are there for them, despite what they are having to put up with."
This tour of duty is the second undertaken by Harry in Helmand. Between 2007 and 2008 he secretly served 77 days on the front line.
After that tour he switched to choppers and, in 2011, passed the gruelling Apache fliers' course before deploying in September.
The prince always promised to be a crack shot — having been crowned his class's Top Gun pilot after 18 months' rigorous training.
The Royal passed the course in February and was handed the Best Co-Pilot Gunner gong at a glittering dinner with comrades.
It meant he was best in his year at the co-pilot's controls of the £46million Apache gunship.
Harry beamed as he was handed the gong — a polished 30mm round from an Apache canon — mounted on a stand.
And now he has been firing the same thing in Helmand. Harry is a front seat co-pilot, which means he is the mission controller and operates the craft's main weapons.
His pal in the back seat is the Apache's pilot, under the command of the mission controller, tasked with manoeuvring the craft. Apaches are among the world's most sophisticated and deadly helicopters and have terrorised the Taliban for the last five years.
They call them "mosquitoes" because of their unique sound.
The Apache can fly in all weathers, day and night. Their hi-tech panel of detection instruments can spot up to 256 potential targets in seconds via its Fire Control Radar.