The remaining five Cessna Citation 550s, and the only law enforcement jets operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), will be auctioned off by year-end. A total of 28 of these Citation models were built and modified for the agency and patrolled the nation’s borders for more than 40 years.
Cessna modified the C-550 to exacting CBP standards, including equipping the aircraft with military “fire-control” radar, sophisticated infrared camera, custom instrument panels, and law enforcement communication packages.
According to the agency, “The C-550 Interceptor, along with the tethered Aerostat radar systems, all but eliminated the illegal use of private aircraft smuggling into the United States.” The agency said that since 2012, the C-550 contributed to the seizure of 741 pounds of cocaine, 11,687 pounds of marijuana, 608 pounds of methamphetamine, 83 weapons, five aircraft, and 58 vehicles. The C-550 also conducted 260 hours of surveillance during Super Bowl football games.
Although the retirement of the Citations means the CBP will no longer operate jets, the agency will still have an impressive fleet of interdiction air support ranging from single-engine pistons, single- and multi-engine turboprops, turbine helicopters, and Predator drones. Also, a CBP spokesperson told AIN that the agency is “currently funded for five additional multi-role enforcement Beech Super King Air 350ERs, five Sikorsky HH-60s, and 16 light enforcement helicopters.”