The star of the photo is an F-15E Strike Eagle, a type of military aircraft we’ve talked about plenty over the past year here on autoevolution. It is particularly detailed in this close-up pic, thanks to its proximity to the Nikon camera a staff sergeant was pointing at it from very close by.
The airplane was snapped on film as it severed its connection with a KC-135 Stratotanker deployed with the 350th Expeditionary Aircraft Refueling Squadron, after a refueling mission.
This whole thing happened over an undisclosed area in Southwest Asia, and we get to see a lot of sand down on the ground, behind the plane. Because it’s a red-ish kind of sand we’re looking at, one can easily get the impression we’re looking at a piece of Mars the plane is flying over.
That impression is further enhanced by the large rock outcropping visible behind the planet and the countless small rocks that dot the surface.
This breathtaking image was taken in February last year, but brought back into focus by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) when it released its Year in Photos album at the beginning of 2022.