Prince William, a search and rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force, will be deployed next year to the Falkland Islands, the setting for Britain's 10-week war with Argentina in 1982.

William, currently based at an RAF base in Wales, will take on what the Ministry of Defence (MoD) described on Thursday as a routine six-week deployment in the South Atlantic islands from February until March.

This deployment forms part of a normal squadron crew rotation and will form part of Flt Lt (Flight Lieutenant) Wales' training and career progression as a Search and Rescue pilot within the RAF, the MoD said in a statement.

Sovereignty of the Falklands, known as Las Malvinas by Argentines, remains a controversial issue, and diplomatic tensions between Britain and Argentina have increased in recent years over offshore oil exploration.

Last month, a former UK defence secretary said London would protect the disputed islands for as long as they wanted to remain British.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the conflict for control of the islands in which about 650 Argentine and 255 British troops were killed.

William, who wed his wife Catherine to great fanfare earlier this year, has rarely been in the limelight since that occasion, concentrating on his career and married life. Catherine is not expected to accompany him to the Falklands.

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato)