Coronavirus: Everything The Military Is Doing To Fight COVID-19

The Armed Forces have been playing a leading role to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The UK Armed Forces are playing a leading role in tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There are 20,000 military personnel on standby as part of the 'COVID Support Force'.

Here is what service personnel have been doing in response to the outbreak.

Supporting the NHS

A large focus of the military's work so far has been on helping the NHS.

The military is assisting in setting up a new temporary hospital in London.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS Nightingale Hospital, based at the ExCel Centre, will comprise two wards which can treat up to 4,000 people in total, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Armed Forces stand ready to assist with the building of a further two field hospitals.

The hospitals will be based at the NEC Centre in Birmingham and at Manchester Central Convention Complex, formerly known as the GMEX.

Both facilities are expected to be opened in the middle of next month.

The British Army is also busy helping convert Glasgow's SEC Centre into a temporary NHS hospital as part of the UK's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

British Army personnel have been helping to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS staff

The PPE includes items such as masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.

There have been regular and reservist personnel, from all three services, assisting with the delivery of kit.

They are stationed at seven NHS distributions centres across the country, delivering to 242 NHS locations.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that around 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment, including face masks, had been distributed by the Army in a 24-hour period.

Meanwhile, 150 tri-service personnel have been training to drive oxygen tankers in support of the NHS, if required.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has also set aside "dozens" of specialist military planners to support public services, authorities and emergency services on a local level.

Evacuation, transportation and repatriation

Royal Navy helicopters based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall are to be used as air ambulances for the NHS during the pandemic. 

Three Merlin Mk2 helicopters and their crews from 820 Naval Air Squadron have been set aside for the task, providing assistance to the NHS and South Western Ambulance Service.

The aircraft will also be used as transporters, moving both supplies and personnel.

Meanwhile, Royal Air Force helicopters are also supporting the NHS.

Three RAF Puma helicopters have been deployed to Kinloss Barracks in Scotland where they will work alongside a Chinook and Wildcat helicopter, based at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, to meet NHS requests in northern England and Scotland.

RAF helicopters will also support the Midlands and southern England, working out of RAF Benson, Oxfordshire.

These southern areas will also be supported by Chinook and Wildcat helicopters.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the force will help with "medical transports", as well as general support including the movement of personnel and equipment.

The RAF recently evacuated one person suffering from coronavirus from the Shetland Islands to Aberdeen. 

Joint Helicopter Command, an aircraft force comprising all three services, is also on standby and will be used to reach "isolated communities that may not be able to obtain urgent medical care", the MOD said.

The military has also conducted repatriation flights, most recently bringing back British holidaymakers who were stranded on a cruise ship in Cuba.

Scotland and Wales

Liaison Officers at Joint Military Command in Stirling, Scotland, have been in close contact with the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre.

They have also been providing planning support in Scotland's regional and local resilience partnerships.

Similarly, the military operations teams in Brecon Barracks have been speaking with the Welsh Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre and is providing planning support to Wales’ four regional Local Resilience Forums.

The Army has also been involved in the conversion of Glasgow's SEC Centre into a temporary NHS hospital.


Puma helicopter from RAF Benson readying to fly to Kinloss Barracks in Moray on 27 March 270320 CREDIT MOD.jpg
A Puma helicopter from RAF Benson readying to fly to Kinloss Barracks on 27 March (Picture: MOD).

Northern Ireland

A British Army base in County Down is set to be used as a temporary mortuary for victims of COVID-19.

Northern Ireland's Department of Justice has approached the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with a request to use a large building at the Kinnegar base in Holywood if required.

Authorities are seeking to expand capacity for storage of bodies in Northern Ireland amid concerns the funeral system will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.


Around 175 British personnel are assisting Gibraltar's government with the delivery of food and medicine to local residents.

The MOD said recently it was also "carefully considering" a request for additional support from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

Falkland Islands

Six British Army medics recently deployed to the Falklands to provide support during the coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, children from the Falklands who attend school in the UK and were left unable to fly home were offered priority travel on the South Atlantic Airbridge.

The Airbridge is owned and operated by the MOD, and provides a direct air service.

Cover image: MOD.