Operation Chameleon: Why there are RAF planes and helicopters circling Lothians, Fife, and Firth of Forth

Two planes have spent the night circling the Lothians, Fife, and the Firth of Forth, moving in very specific spirals until the early hours.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 12:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 11:03 am

Some residents as far away as Fife even heard helicopters coming and going at around 3am today.

Meanwhile, two RAF planes took off from Leuchars, near St Andrews, and spent the night circling East Lothian, over Dunbar, North Berwick, and East Linton.

The craft, identified on flight tracking websites as Snake54, was a small propeller plane which made well-defined circles after taking off at 9.23pm and later heading back to Leuchars after 4am.

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The smaller plane focused on East Lothian, forming very distinct circles.

It was matched by a larger craft, Snake57, which made bigger circles around the area.

It is throught that Snake57 and Snake54 are involved in an intelligence gathering exercise.

It is understood to be part of a military training exercise which has also involved Apache helicopters, which have been sighted in Glasgow and Edinburgh recently.

Exercise Chameleon began on February 23, and is set to continue until March 19.

According to Ministry of Defence documents available online the exercise involves low-flying rotary and transport vehicles, but there are no plans for jets to become involved.

The MoD has been contacted for comment.

Fife has often been used in recent years for military exercises.

In 2017, residents across the Kingdom were regularly woken by groups of low-flying Chinook helicopters, with video even showing troops being deployed on Inchkeith island in the Forth.

Loud bangs were also heard late into the night and early morning.