Flares are high-temperature heat sources ejected from combat planes to mislead the missile’s heat-seeking targeting system: the burning flares have a heat signature larger than that of the aircraft’s engines, thus they attract IR (infrared) guided missiles fired at them.
Even if they are only useful in combat, used during an airshow, they make an aircraft’s display particularly awesome.
The photo in this post is interesting because it shows a flare cartridge moments after being ejected by the F-16 Block 52+ of the Hellenic Air Force F-16 Demo Team “Zeus”.
A rare close up by Nikos Delhanidids who shot the photo on Nov. 9 in Thessaloniki.
H/T to Strategy Reports for the heads-up
Image credit: Monographix
The photo was taken during a demonstration over the bay of Thessaloniki. There are multiple videos online with the pilot flying crazy low and fast and releasing flares.
(1:1 scale) http://www.monographix.me/HAF_Zeus_Flare.jpg