Many large military aircraft have been spotted in the skies across the UK over in recent weeks.

Out in the countryside, several people have reportedly heard jets flying through the skies late at night. 

Now the RAF has spoken out to reassure the public that there is nothing sinister taking place and reveal the real reason why its aircraft have been seen across the country.

Some of the most noticeable planes to have been spotted in the skies were from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The large aircraft have been observed circling many areas of the UK, including places like Glasgow and Lancashire, as well as making brief landings during "touch and go" manoeuvres designed to practice these tricky and sometimes risky touchdowns. 

In wartime, some planes have to make landings on rough terrain, so it's imperative that pilots are as well-practised as possible. 

Tewkesbury Admag: This is an Airbus A400M Atlas, the type of airfact seen over Glasgow in recent weeks (Image: RAF)This is an Airbus A400M Atlas, the type of airfact seen over Glasgow in recent weeks (Image: RAF)

What have the RAF said?

A spokesman from RAF Lossiemouth told our sister title, The Herald: "Due to the lockdown, the public have become more aware and interested in these activities.

"To be clear, these were all occurring prior to the pandemic. But a lack of civil aviation now makes them stand out more.

"Many of the larger aircraft based out of RAF Brize Norton, such as the C-130 Hercules, A400M Atlas, A330-200MRTT Voyager, and C-17 Globemaster regularly fly on essential, but routine training missions around the United Kingdom.

"The C-130 and A400 in particular fly quite low-level profiles, and on operations they will be used to land in areas where there are not established runway surfaces.

"This can include landing on beaches, for example."

Military planes spotted on FlightRadar24

The quiet skies have made it easier to spot military planes, which can sometimes be identified and followed using apps like FlightRadar24.

Occasionally, the military planes have been observed performing strange-looking manoeuvres such as flying around in circles (which you can see in the image below showing a late-night flight in the north-east of Scotland on Monday, May 11). 

Tewkesbury Admag:

The RAF said these odd flight patterns have a clear explanation - the aircraft were involved in mid-air refuelling. 

For the last three weeks RAF Lossiemouth has been involved in night flying exercise which concluded on Friday, May 15 involving Typhoon jets. 

"During our night flying window, we launched our first set of sorties around 1430," the spokesman added. 

"This meant we were able to generate two or three training serials a day – two in daylight, and one in low-light conditions.

"The Typhoon is a multi-role aircraft, which means it’s able to conduct a number of different missions while in the air; air-to-air and air-to-ground manoeuvres to name two.

"To enable our Typhoons to stay on task for longer and travel larger distances, we are often supported by Voyagers – the RAF’s air-to-air refuelling aircraft based at RAF Brize Norton.

"These Voyager aircraft will fly ‘racetracks in the sky’, and are usually visible on flight tracking websites which pick up ADS-B."

Military aircraft are on 'constant standby'

In the UK, live-armed Typhoons are on "constant standby to react against unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace as well as aircraft that are operating in an unusual manner, which may pose a threat".

Typhoons are often scrambled on "Quick Reaction Alert" missions to intercept planes which enter British airspace

"Our last intercept was against two Bear-F – Russian Maritime Patrol Aircraft on April 19," the RAF Lossiemouth spokesman said. 

"Additionally the Typhoon Force are involved in NATO Air Policing missions, such as Op AZOTIZE in Lithuania where 6 Squadron deployed a few weeks ago.

"Typhoons have also been involved in strikes against Daesh."

Tewkesbury Admag: A Typhoon jetA Typhoon jet

How to find out what a military aircraft is doing in the skies

If you're worried by the sudden appearance of a military aeroplane, you can generally find out what it's up to by visiting offical Twitter accounts or the RAF website.

"The RAF has always been open about its operations and exercises," the spokesman continued. 

"With the public now spending more time at home, many have taken to their gardens or spent more time on their phones.

"They have also become more acutely aware of the noises above their houses, and we’ve seen a significant increase in interest in routine, but essential flying as a result.

"When we do launch Quick Reaction Alert, wherever possible we publish information as to who we intercepted, what the aircraft were doing, why the interception was carried out, roughly where it all happened, and we aim to answer as many questions we can whilst maintaining operational security.

"It’s vital that the public understand why this activity is essential to the defence of the United Kingdom."