Check Out These Amazing Shots Of A C-5M Super Galaxy Releasing Flares During Defensive Countermeasures Testing

C-5 Galaxy flares
A 436th Airlift Wing C-5M Super Galaxy releases flares during a test May 12 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (All images: U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

The giant C-5M Super Galaxy released flares during a two-week defensive countermeasures test program on the Eglin range.

A C-5M Super Galaxy, belonging to the 436th Airlift Wing, from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, was involved in a defensive countermeasures testing campaign that saw the U.S. Air Force’s largest aircraft release flares, at night, over an area of the Eglin range, Florida.

Each night, the C-5M released more than 15 flares, repeating the same operation several times, entering the area from different entry points and angles, to increase aircraft and crew combat survivability by evaluating and fielding improved defensive systems capabilities.

Flares are high-temperature heat sources used to mislead surface-to-air or air-to-air missile’s heat-seeking targeting systems, creating the pyrotechnic visual effect similar to a fireworks display. Such countermeasures are used against MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) and IR-guided surface-to-air missiles.

The giant C-5M Super Galaxy released flares at 300 knots and 1,500 feet: a unique opportunity for both the 9th Airlift Squadron’s operational aircrew involved in the testing and the U.S. Air Force photographer Samuel King Jr., who took the amazing shots you can find in this story.

C-5 Galaxy flares
The C-5M Super Galaxy releases flares on Eglin range.

“There are rare situations when the aircraft does pop flares,” said Capt. Bryan Chanson, 9th AS pilot in a news release. “The crew is usually focused primarily on flying out or away from the potential threat and hoping flares do their intended jobs. The testing allowed us to gain the situational awareness to concentrate on flare dispense in a safe environment.”

C-5 Galaxy flares
The C-5M released 15 flares during each pass.

“Countermeasure testing like this is a Team Eglin event,” said Capt. Daniel Clarke, 46th TS Defensive Systems Flight commander. “Our test engineers work hand in hand with the 96th Range Group to ensure resources are ready to test and collect data and the 96th Maintenance Group ensures every flare tested is loaded on to each aircraft.”

Interestingly, the C-5M Super Galaxy testing with flares was just the start of a two-month test program, according to the Air Mobility Command. Through the end of June, the 96th Cyberspace Test Group will execute flare testing on four more aircraft from Air Force Special Operations Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command Test Center and AMC. Let’s wait for some more cool flares shots then!

C-5 Galaxy flares
A 436th Airlift Wing C-5M Super Galaxy releases flares during a test May 12 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.