Here's why a mystery plane has been flying over Portsmouth and Gosport in recent weeks
A MYSTERY plane has been spotted circling the skies over Portsmouth.
The aircraft has been spied regularly flying over the city and the surrounding areas including Gosport in recent weeks.
Planespotters have been left scratching their heads after tracking the repeated flights over the last month.
The plane, which is a white Cessna with blue stripes, takes off from Solent Airport in Daedalus Drive, Lee-on-the-Solent, then proceeds to circle Portsmouth and Gosport several times before landing again.
It was spotted again flying above the city this afternoon, having previously made eight similar journeys.
The News can now reveal that the reason behind the mysterious flights over Portsmouth is due to the plane being used as part of an experiment by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
A spokeswoman from MoD explained: ‘The aircraft is part of an experiment to help the MoD understand how the very latest technologies in Wide Area Motion Imagery could help the Armed Forces protect lives when operating in an urban environment.’
The surveying flights have lasted anywhere between 40 minutes and several hours and have been going on since Wednesday, September 29.
The longest journey the plane has taken was for six hours and 57 minutes.
Last Wednesday, according to the Flightaware tracking website, the aircraft – registered N73266 – set off at 8.43am and landed at 3.40pm.
A high-tech camera setup is stored inside which is used for photography purposes.
The MoD spokeswoman stressed that the plane is not taking exact photos of civilians.
She added: ‘The images generated do not identify individuals on the ground, but may assist our troops with timely situational awareness in future conflicts.’