An F/A - 18 ´Hornet´ from the ´Mighty Shrikes´ of Strike Fighter Squadron Nine Four (VFA - 94) fires flares during a training mission. Flares are part of the aircraft´s defense against surface - to - air and air - to - air infra - red (IR) heat - seeking missile attacks. IR missiles follow a heat source. The heat created by the flare will hopefully burn hotter than the aircraft engine and attract the incoming missile away from the aircraft. VFA - 94 is assigned to Carrier Airwing Eleven (CVW 11) aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Steve Lightstone.