As 2020 ended, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a number of stunning images to reflect the day-to-day operations that occurred throughout the year.
Taken by both military and civilian MoD photographers, the images highlighted just some of the operations that were undertaken by the British Army, Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy during 2020.
When the images were released on December 26, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “During an extraordinary year, defence photographers have helped capture the diverse work of our servicemen and women, from fighting COVID at home to deploying on operations overseas. Their work offers the general public a unique glimpse of what life is like for our personnel.”
Although the MoD shared a number of stunning images from across all three branches of the UK Armed Forces, we have opted to just share the aviation-based pictures in this feature, which can be viewed below.
On June 18, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the Red Arrows, joined the French Air and Space Force's Patrouille de France in a flypast over Paris. The joint UK-French flypast took place to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's famous Appeal of 18 June speech, which is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Adam Fletcher
The RAFAT Red Arrows and Patrouille de France also conducted a flypast over central London on June 18 to commemorate the 80th anniversary since Charles de Gaulle's famous Appeal of 18 June speech. MoD Crown Copyright/Dave Jenkins
A Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 is pictured receiving fuel from an Airbus A330-243 Voyager KC2/KC3 through the window of the multi-role tanker transport (MRTT). MoD Crown Copyright/Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Kimberley Waterson
A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress long-range strategic heavy bomber - belonging to the US Air Force's 5th Bomb Wing - is escorted over the North Sea on June 15 by three RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from No 11 (Fighter) Squadron. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Alex Scott
Staff members from the National Health Service (NHS) check their mobile phones whilst being flown to an unspecified location in the UK by an RAF Boeing Chinook heavy-lift tactical transport helicopter. Chinook helicopters were employed as part of the UK's Aviation Task Force COVID Support Force, transporting medical personnel across the country to help in the fight against the coronavirus. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Charlotte Hopkins
Soldiers from C Squadron of the British Army's Light Dragoons cavalry regiment prepare to board a Polish Army Aviation Mil Mi-8MT/Mi-8T 'Hip-H' heavy-lift tactical transport helicopter during a deployment to Poland in August 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Capt Sam Davies
British Army soldiers from C Squadron of the Light Dragoons cavalry regiment get some rest aboard a Polish Army Aviation Mil Mi-8MT/Mi-8T 'Hip-H' transport helicopter during a deployment to the eastern European nation in August 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Capt Sam Davies
An RAF-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 multi-role fighter makes clouds during flight. This aircraft is assigned to No 1435 Flight at RAF Mount Pleasant, where it provides a continuous air defence mission for the Falkland Islands and surrounding territories.
MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Dave Rose
In June 2020, two BAe 146 CC3 strategic transports were adapted to carry medical patients to assist in the UK's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the MoD, the aircraft were prepared for this role rapidly and at no cost. This image shows members of the RAF's Tactical Medical Wing and the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) performing a mock casualty evacuation. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews
A Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II - assigned to the RAF's famous No 617 Squadron 'Dambusters' at RAF Marham, Norfolk - conducts a sortie during Exercise Crimson Ocean on June 25, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4, serial ZK426, takes part in Exercise Crimson Ocean on June 25, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Alex Scott
In late June 2020, the RAF unveiled a new, bespoke paint scheme for Airbus A330-243 Voyager KC2, serial ZZ336, which has adopted a new role as a VIP transport. Known as 'Vespina', the VIP Voyager will be used to represent both the RAF and the wider UK when transporting members of the Royal Family and senior government officials. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews
An RAF-operated Airbus A400M Atlas C1 heavy-lift tactical transport taxis before taking off into winter skies from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, on January 27, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Lee Matthews
Airbus A400M Atlas C1, serial ZM407, takes off from RAF Brize Norton on April 22, 2020. The A400M has served as an essential asset for transporting essential equipment and goods to remote locations to assist in the fight against the coronavirus. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews
Airbus A400M Atlas C1, serial ZM416, is prepared for a flight to the Turks and Caicos Islands at RAF Brize Norton on May 7, 2020. The flight came as part of Operation Broadshare - the UK's military operation to help fight COVID-19 overseas, primarily in British Overseas Territories. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews
Ground personnel conduct general post flight checks on a British F-35B Lightning II multi-role short take-off and landing (STOVL) stealth fighter at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada. In February 2020, the 'Dambusters' took part in the USAF-hosted Exercise Red Flag 20-1, which saw the UK's new combat aircraft fly alongside a variety of aircraft from other nations. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Amy Lupton
An RAF-operated Voyager KC2/KC3 multi-role tanker transport weathers a winter storm at RAF Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands, while ground personnel work to clear the snow around the aircraft. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Andy Holmes
Flight Sgt Dan Whittington, a winchman from No 84 Search and Rescue Squadron at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, is winched down to the deck of HMS Enterprise by a Bell Griffin HAR2 to retrieve a dummy casualty during a training exercise on July 31, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Phil Dye
RAF photographer, SAC Hazel Reader, poses in front of a two-seat Eurofighter Typhoon T3 before taking to the skies to photograph a training exercise over the North Sea on October 1, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Maryanne Williams
A pair of RAF-operated Boeing Chinook HC6/HC6As each transport an underslung load of 105mm Light Guns across the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The heavy-lift tactical transport helicopters were flying as part of a joint exercise with the British Army's 16 Air Assault Brigade. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Rob Travis
A Voyager KC2/KC3 refuels an RAF-operated Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules as it flies to the Ukraine to support a parachute exercise on September 16, 2020. Two C-130Js, belonging to No 47 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton, took part in the operation - each containing a series of cargo pallets and members from the 16 Air Assault Brigade and the Parachute Regiment. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Tom Cann
A pair of Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) AW101 Merlin HC4 medium-lift tactical transport helicopters take part in an humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) exercise on the Caribbean island of Monserrat on April 28, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Leading Photographer Rory Arnold
British and American flight deck crews aboard the Royal Navy's new flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) pose for a photo on the deck of the ship as a US Marine Corps (USMC)-operated F-35B hovers in the background. MoD Crown Copyright/Leading Photographer Belinda Alker
The Royal Navy's largest aircraft carrier to date, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) pictured at sea during Group Exercise 2020 on October 4. This year, the vessel will conduct its first operational deployment in the Pacific. It will deploy with a complement of F-35Bs from the RAF's famed 'Dambusters' squadron and the USMC's Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) 'Wake Island Avengers', as well as a number of RAF/Royal Navy helicopters. MoD Crown Copyright/Leading Photographer Belinda Alker
Insert Marine Here! A Royal Marine Commando fast ropes to the ground from a Royal Navy-operated Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) AW159 Wildcat HMA2 during an exercise in Cyprus on October 22, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Leading Photographer Barry Swainsbury
A rear shot of a resting Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on February 2, 2020. RAF Typhoons have been operating from the Mediterranean base in support of Operation Shader - the UK's contribution to the US-led global mission against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Phil Dye
The silhouette of an RAF-operated Airbus A400M Atlas C1 heavy-lift tactical transport is pictured under fiery dusk skies in the Turks and Caicos Islands after the aircraft delivered essential supplies to the region on May 8, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Petty Officer Photographer Si Ethell
Troops assigned to Bravo Company of the Royal Marines' 40 Commando unit receive a bergan supply drop from a Malloy Aeronautics heavy lift unmanned aircraft system during Exercise Olympus Warrior in Cyprus on October 24, 2020. MoD Crown Copyright/Petty Officer Photographer Si Ethell
A British Army Air Corps Leonardo Helicopters (formerly Westland) WAH-64D Apache Longbow AH1 attack helicopter is pictured under the spectacle that is the Northern Lights whilst on deployment in Bardufoss, Norway.
MoD Crown Copyright/Lt Glenn Smith
An RAF Atlas C1 is de-iced prior to departing RAF Brize Norton on November 26, 2020. The aircraft was transporting personnel to Mali, who were deploying in support of Operation Newcombe - the UK's contribution to the United Nations' ongoing mission in the African nation. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Tom Cann
Selfie! An image taken of an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 pilot whilst flying over NATO warships operating in the Baltic Sea. As part of the UK's contribution to the NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission, a number of No 6 Squadron Typhoons deployed to Lithuania for a number of months at the start of the year. During which, the multi-role fighters carried out mock air attacks on NATO warships to test their defences while operating in the Baltic Sea. MoD Crown Copyright/Royal Air Force