Scientists to use A-10 Warthog fighter jet as storm chaser (VIDEO)

One A-10 Warthog at an Oklahoma airport will lose its guns and be used to fly into the eye of the storm.

The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport is retrofitting the fighter jet to chase down tornadoes and hurricanes and capture crucial data. The $13-million project is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the team hopes the aircraft will help keep the public safer, FOX 25 reports.

The A-10 is notorious for its toughness and ability to stay in the fight, even after sustaining heavy damage. But now the jet will be facing a new enemy.

“It’s not built for speed, it was built to loiter and stay over top of the battle field to protect the army,” said A-10 Aircraft Program Manager and Crew Chief Vince Schneider. “The mission of this aircraft is to get close to the storm.”

In place of its GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm rotary cannon and other armament, this A-10 will be outfitted with a new computer system and a slew of sensors.

After the A-10 maneuvers into position above the storm, it will drop the sensors from the wing tips and wheel pods. As the sensors fall through the storm, they’ll relay the collected information to scientists on the ground, giving them “real-time, first-hand knowledge of whatever it is they want to sample.”

Schneider hopes the new intel gathered by the A-10 will help researchers understand how storms move, protecting the public by giving them more time to seek shelter.

“The benefit is to the Air Force,” Schneider said. “The benefit is to the scientific community. The benefit is to the civilian community.”

[ FOX 25 ]