Aircraft flare: Countermeasure for Infrared homing

Aircraft flare:  Countermeasure for Infrared homing

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Angel Smoke - Russell E. Cooley

Take a look at the cool photo taken by Russell E. Cooley. Isn't that really a great photo? First of all, that's really an original photo, It is not any kind of photoshopped photo.

That giant owl shaped smoke is produced due to flares released by Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft seen on the right upper corner of the image. That smoke is sometimes called as a smoke angel. Take a look at the following video to see how smoke angel by The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is produced. 

(Video from Airboyd Youtube)

But what is the purpose of producing such kind of smoke?
Let's find it out!

Short Answer: - That smoke is produced by flares produced by an aircraft. Flares are produced by an aircraft as a protective measure to misguide infrared homing or Heat seeking missiles, launched to destroy Aircraft.

Explanation: -

As discussed earlier that smoke is produced due to flares released by an aircraft. Flares produced by aircraft are actually countermeasure for Infrared homing or Heat seeking missiles.

Too much technical terms??
Don't worry, we will see it in a simplified manner.

What is Infrared Homing?

Infrared Seeker - Wikimedia

Infrared Homing System is a weapon (e.g. missile) guidance system. It uses Infrared waves emitted by the target to trace it. Infrared waves are emitted by hot bodies such as an aircraft engine. Heat is produced by aircraft engine due to combustion of the fuel. An infrared seeker consists of infrared sensors which detect infrared waves emitted by the hot aircraft engine. So, The infrared seekers can track aircraft based on infrared waves emitted by the hot aircraft engine. Infrared seekers are also known as 'Heat Seekers'.

The infrared Homing system is passive weapon guidance system. There is no any kind of indication to target that Infrared seeking missile is following it, unlike RADAR. As in a case of RADAR, radio waves are transmitted to the target. Radio waves reflect back from the target and received by the receiver. As Radio waves are reflecting from the target, they could indicate target about the upcoming weapon (missile).

Aircraft flare:  Countermeasure for Infrared homing

Aircraft Flares - Wikimedia

Now we are ready for the answer to our question. To protect aircraft from the upcoming Infrared seeker, Flares with the temperature higher than that of the temperature of an engine are produced. So, Flares misguide Infrared seekers and protect aircraft. And that smoke is produced due to hot flares. That Circular shape of smoke is due to vortex produced by aircraft wingtip known as 'Wingtip Vortices'.

Take a look at flares produced by aircraft

C17 Globemaster III aircraft Flares Video From Airsource Military - youtube

Lockheed C130 Aircraft Flares - Wikimedia

F-22 Aircraft Flares - Wikimedia

Boeing C17 Globemaster III Aircraft Flares - Wikimedia

Thanks for reading

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