Soon, there will be more to the A-10’s “Thunderbolt” moniker than just a legacy name. Everyone’s favorite down and dirty, ugly chariot of death is going geek and will become the ultimate storm chasing vehicle of all time! The National Science Foundation has apparently already had one bailed by the USAF to them and the jet is currently getting modified for its exciting new task. The A-10 is a logical choice for this mission for many reasons. Along with the S-3, the A-10 uses robust, fuel-efficient, reliable and easily maintainable motors (TF-34 for the S-3 and A-10, CF-34 in the civilian world for the CRJ etc), the structure is legendarily tough, it has a long endurance (remember the A-10 was going to become a sea patrol aircraft at one time), big wings for stores and a relatively simple avionics setup.
I am really looking forward to seeing how this thing will look after its modifications and hopefully a really nice mission specific coat of paint. Those tornado proof tanks that storm chasers roll around in on the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” are very cool, but they better watch out for the WA-10 (just a guess folks) as she got her legendary status busting open such armored vehicles, and now she will bust open some serious storm cells as well.
Can you imagine signing up for this job? What an intense gig. One person alone, flying through the worst atmospheric disturbances an aircraft has ever intentionally flew into. Usually aircraft avoid lightning like the plague, in this case the Warthog will be on the hunt for it. Its redundant critical systems and honeycomb construction will no doubt be put to good use after a few direct lightening strikes.