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Citation II C-550 Tracker

In October 1990 a new U.S.-Mexican counternarcotics agreement included provisions for "specified conditions under which P-3 aircraft may overfly Mexico" and provide information to the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office also announced that it would acquire two Cessna Citation fixed-wing aircraft with advanced down-looking radar [these aircraft would be operated exclusively by Mexican crews]. The U.S. Customs Service provided advanced training to the pilots of the Citation II tracker aircraft operated by the federal prosecutor's office (PGR).

The ten C-550 Tracker aircraft operated by the US Customs Service are fitted with the Westinghouse AN/APG-66 radar, which is also used on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Coast Guard's HU-25 Guardian aircraft. This variant also carries the Texas Instrument AN/AAS-36 Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) gimballed chin mount that can be slaved to the radar's movements. Established by Congress during the late 1960's in response to the growing number of airborne smugglers bringing drugs into the United States, the Customs Aviation Interdiction Program became operational in 1971. Its mission: to stem the flow of illicit drugs coming into the US through the air and to assist other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Once detected, suspect aircraft entering US air space are covertly intercepted, identified and followed to their delivery sites by Customs interceptor aircraft such as the Cessna Citation jet.

In the mid-1990s the US Customs Service supported Operation Cadence and narcotics interdiction efforts in Central America by deploying detection, monitoring, Service and tracking aircraft and personnel to the region. Customs deployed three Cessna Citation aircraft to track suspect aircraft once they entered Central American airspace. The planes, crews, and mechanics were assigned on a temporary rotational duty basis and were deployed to Panama and Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras. To supplement the detection and monitoring activities of the US Southern Command -in Panama, Customs stationed up to three surveillance aircraft on a 90-day basis in Panama to track suspect aircraft as they leave Colombia.

The NOAA Cessna Citation (CE-550) is a versatile highly modified twin jet engine aircraft. Standard configuration allows for mission equipment, two pilots, and one equipment operator. With the scientific equipment removed, seating for 6 scientists/technicians may be installed. The Citation primarily supports the NGS Remote Sensing Division, collecting photographic data in support of Nautical and Aeronautical Charting. The NOAA AOC Citation has a unique side-by-side camera modification allowing two different film emulsions to be exposed simultaneously. Additionally, a high precision GPS receiver and FRPA antenna allow centimeter horizontal accuracy with the use of a differential GPS site. The imagery collected is primarily used for updating the shoreline on nautical charts. Imagery collected in support of airport obstruction identification is critical to the safety of flight and result in changes to the FAA digital database. Also, the Citation has been flown for storm profiling, post-flood photography, environmental photography, and multi-spectral imagery missions. The NOAA Cessna Citation II was modified to accommodate dual mapping camera systems in a pressurized cabin. The modifications include 2 sliding-leaf doors; each mounted on dual worm gears that are powered by electric motors. The fuselage was widened with two rectangular farings to allow for the two side-by-side camera ports. A large rectangular optical quality glass flat was installed under each camera to sustain cabin pressurization. Located directly aft of the copilot's seat is a navigation station incorporating a metal equipment rack, a remote steering station, and the navigator's seat. The equipment rack contains a Trimble 4000 SSI surveying receiver, an OMNISTAR system, an IBM laptop PC with the moving map display and a second IBM laptop PC that collects EDI Logger positioning information.



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