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.
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