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I was watching Behind Enemy Lines, and one of my favourite scenes is the jet attempting to evade the missiles.

All this got me thinking about the Defiant from Deep Space Nine, and some research shows it doesn't have flares for defensive purposes. It's possible by this point in time technology would have made the use of flares obsolete. It's also possible that physics doesn't work that way in space.

Realistically, if you have 2 space craft, can one fire a missile and the other eject flares in an attempt to evade the missile as shown in the clip? If not, what would happen to the missile and flares?

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    $\begingroup$ ...that clip does not appear to show flares hitting anything. And anyway, flares aren't intended to hit a target, they're intended to be a target to draw missiles away or otherwise disrupt their ability to track the aircraft, since real missiles can't turn around for another try. The intent is to evade the missile, not destroy it. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristopherJamesHuff - Okay, this sort of makes my question invalid. Let me see if I can clear it up based on what you said. $\endgroup$
    – user44102
    Oct 1 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ In space "drop" may not be the right word. $\endgroup$
    – Rodo
    Oct 1 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Rodo - I'm going to clear up my question based on the feedback in the comments, what would be the right word? $\endgroup$
    – user44102
    Oct 1 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ Good grief, that clip is hilarious. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 at 19:55
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Yes of course.

I think that correct military terms aren't heat flares, but ejectable (dispensable) countermeasures.

Actually, one spacecraft firing missiles using infrared homing guidance systems and second spacecraft try to evade them with some type of heat countermeasure is exactly how realistic space battle could look like.

Forget Star Wars, realistic space battles could look much more like underwater battles from movie The Hunt for Red October https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099810/. Highly likely with nuclear weapons instead of conventional warheads, because they are much more powerful and radiation contamination in deep space won't be big deal for warring factions.

In case that missiles will be guided by radar systems, you can disrupt missile tracking with radar jamming from defending spacecraft.

But in case that enemy will use long range nuclear missile with infrared homing guidance, it could be good type of defense against attack. Other than that, you can directly destroy upcoming nuclear missile with your defense missiles, but you must done it before it came to close for nuclear explosion to hit your spacecraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure what you mean by fast-paced. In space there is no air resistance. Speed of heat flares (I would call them rather heat countermeasures) depend on force with which you eject them from the spacecraft. In deep space they can keep this speed indefinitely, because there is nothing to slow them down. And if you defend your spacecraft from long range nuclear missile you must eject them long time enough, before missile come too close. So no, it wouldn't be so fast-paced like in the movie. $\endgroup$
    – David Cage
    Oct 1 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ @EmpressSvetlana I think they could be useful, though I'm not sure calling them merely "flares" is very precise. You'd be firing waves of offensive missiles as well as defensive missiles designed to confuse or kill the enemy missiles. You might set of nukes to try and blind sensors, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Harabeck
    Oct 1 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @EmpressSvetlana Primary defense should be firing multiple defense missiles on upcoming nuclear warhead and try to destroy it before it come too close to your spacecraft. But I don't see reason why you cant have heat countermeasures as your other defense system, for example in case you run out off all your defense missiles. $\endgroup$
    – David Cage
    Oct 1 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidCage - So to the larger question, the DS9 craft Defiant could have heat flares, assuming the missiles fired at it can track a heat source, and assuming the Defiant produces one. $\endgroup$
    – user44102
    Oct 1 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Simple flares are also only effective against very simple trackers that just chase the brightest thing they can lock onto. A real world decoy may have to have a similar power output, similar surface temperature, and similar surface area to what it's decoying. It may need to imitate the real propulsion system as well, and things like radar signatures...in reality, you may be better off just bringing two ships to the fight. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 at 0:01

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