British Armed Forces best photos of 2021

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Pictured is an RAF Flight Sergeant (from 27 Sqn, RAF Odiham), he operates as the rear crewman as the Chinook transits through the Hombori mountains in Mali at sunset. Photographer: Flt Lt Andy Donovan - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

Breath-taking photographs captured by Armed Forces photographers provide a unique look back at the work of the UK Armed Forces around the world in 2021.

The stunning images show the impressive scale and ambition of the UK Armed Forces on deployment around the world, from cold weather training in the Arctic Circle to counter-terrorism operations over the mountains of Mali.

From the dust and dirt of a war zone to the gleaming uniforms of a parade, military photographers capture the images that show the reality of life for UK servicemen and women.

Those who capture these images are all soldiers, sailors and aviators first and photographers second, deploying with their rifle as well as their camera.

One standout shot shows a young Afghan child thanking a UK soldier as he climbs aboard a Royal Air Force flight to be evacuated from Kabul.

Photographer: LPhot Ben Shread – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

Ministry of Defence chief photographic officer Harland Quarrington said:

“This year and every year, Armed Forces photographers have captured the vital work of the Armed Forces in the UK and around the world. The work of military photographers was crucial to telling the heartbreaking story of Afghanistan and the remarkable evacuation of 15,000 vulnerable civilians this summer. I’m so grateful to our photographers for bringing amazing stories from around the world – from the Middle East to the Arctic Circle – back to their supporters in the UK.”

The remarkable images also capture landmark events in the life of the nation, including the military Guard of Honour outside St George’s Chapel as HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest this spring.

Photographer: PO PHOT Dave Jenkins – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

They also tell the human stories behind military operations – one heart-warming photo shows a young sailor embracing her child as she returns from deployment at sea just in time for Christmas.

Photographer: CPO Owen Cooban – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

The Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force protect the UK and its allies and promote our interests around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

On Christmas Day 2021, 6,100 sailors, marines, soldiers and aviators will be deployed around the world, serving on 22 operations in 30 countries.

More than 7,500 personnel are currently on standby in the UK to be called upon to support winter resilience operations at home.

For more of the winning photos click here.

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