Now THAT'S formation flying! Squadron of RAF Typhoon jets skim across colourful fields in perfect symmetry
By Anna Edwards
They can normally be seen as only a dot in the sky. But these dramatic photos give a completely new picture of the brave work of the Royal Air Force servicemen and women. These astonishing pictures, entered into the annual Royal Air Force Photographic competition, give a glimpse behind the scenes of the dangerous work carried out which makes up the normal day in the Force.
This photo, called Colourful Symmetry, by SAC Graham Taylor of RAF Coningsby, shows Typhoon aircraft practising for the Royal Jubilee celebrations by performing a diamond-nine formation over Lincolnshire the day before they were due to fly over Windsor Castle
Part of the winning portfolio from RAF Marham, this picture, From Thrust Till Dawn by Corporal Babbs Robinson, shows Tornado GR4 aircraft launching from RAF Marham loaded with Storm Shadow cruise missiles
This picture, taken by 2012 RAF Photographer of the year Corporal Mike Jones from RAF Marham, shows SAC Mulligan and troops from 58 Squadron RAF Regiment conducting a routine patrol near Camp Bastion in Afghanistan
The impressive images of operations, training, equipment and sport are were all taken by RAF personnel and civilians, and capture the amazing work undertaken by the air force around the world.
This year the overall winner of the RAF photographer of the year category was Corporal Mike Jones from RAF Marham.
His portfolio of four images shows the diversity of task from operations to ceremonial and modern equipment to heritage.
He also took a particularly captivating image of an Afghan elder.
Corporal Jones, remembers the moment he took the photo: 'The picture was taken on New Year's Day at Kandahar during an Open Day for local Afghans living close to the airfield to visit us at work.
'At the open day the RAF had provided a Tornado GR4 and the crew were busy talking to a lot of excited kids and local people.
'I saw the man sitting alone to one side by the hangar door, just watching things going on. The conditions were perfect.
This striking image was highly commended in Category C 'RAF Operational Experience'. Called 'Downward Leg' by SAC Tommy Axford, it shows a Merlin helicopter on exercise Pashtung Vortex carrying out pre-deployment training in Jordan
Winner in Category C 'RAF Operational Experience', Rear View by Cpl Paul Oldfield, shows US Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter flying over Kajakai Dam, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with Major John A. Toolan, commander, Regional Command (Southwest)
Winner of Category F 'Portrait' is a photo called 'Prince' by Sgt Richard Beattie. It is a portrait of Flight Lieutenant Princejit Ubhi, an Ops Officer, who can wear his headdress as part of his uniform in honour of his religion
Third place in Category C 'The RAF Operational Experience' was 'Get Down' by SAC Chris Hill, which showed personnel diving for cover on rocky ground in Cyprus
'As the hangar door opened there was a flood of natural light falling on him. It is a very natural shot. It is a striking picture that I am proud of.'
The RAF has held a photographic competition for the last 23 years and this time there were more than 800 entries in 12 categories.
The award ceremony was held today at the historic Royal Air Force Club in London.
Other photos include a Hurricane plane flying over London and the 58 Squadron on patrol.
'The competition entries this year are once again of the highest quality and showcase not only the professional abilities of our Royal Air Force Photographers but also the tremendous diversity and agility of our people and equipment,'said Chief to the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal, Sir Stephen Dalton.
Second Prize Category D 'RAF Equipment' was 'Chinook Sunset' by Ian Forshaw, who captured this Chinook refuelling at RAF Shawbury. He captured the brilliant colours beaming off the window of the aircraft
Winner of Category B 'Technical/Engineering' was 'Function and Form' by SAC Graham Taylor. The picture shows a Spitfire from RAF Coningsby's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) during a ground-run following engine and fuelling issues
Part of the section entry for RAF Leuchars in Category A 'Photographic Section Portfolio'. This was a digitally manipulated image of a Typhoon using light trail techniques
This dramatic shot earned the photographer by SAC Graham Taylor the title of winner of Category D 'RAF Equipment'. It shows a Typhoon from 29(R) Sqn, RAF Coningsby, performing a full display as part of their Public Display Authority obligation
'These dynamic images reflect the extensive breadth of Service life, the critical contribution that our personnel are making to global operations and the unique year of celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee as well as the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.'
Three independent judges, Len Dance, Alex Mead and Geoff Mayor, with in excess of 100 years pictorial experience between them, wrestled to agree on the winning images in the 12 categories for this year's photographic competition.
One of the three independent judges Len Dance said: 'I have worked with imagery my entire career, and I was honoured to be invited to judge this year's competition.
'The quality and technical skills demonstrated through these entries is absolutely fantastic.'
Category L 'Photographer of the Year' titled 'Afghan Air Wing Open Day', this sombre portrait was captured by Corporal Mike Jones RAF, who photographed an Afghan Elder as he watched over his family as they took part in an Afghanistan Air Force open day at Kandahar Air Base
This picture by Cpl Mike Jones shows a Merlin Helicopter being delivered to Camp Bastion. The rotary wing aircraft, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, is destined to become the latest addition to the Merlin fleet based in Afghanistan
Winner of the 'RAF PR Image of the Year' Category K. 'Regiment Patrol' by SAC Andy Masson of RAF Marham. The picture shows Corporal Steve Cavanagh from 2620 Auxillary Squadron, wearing the new Multi Terrain Pattern uniform, whilst in front of a RAF Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham