Martin Streetly – Israeli contractor BIRD Aerosystems has announced that it is providing a Cessna Citation-based Airborne Surveillance, Information and Observation (ASIO) solution to an un-named African customer for use the maritime border surveillance role.
To-date, ASIO equipped Cessna Citations have been delivered to Angola and the Mexican Air Force, with the former being understood to have been equipped with a Leonardo Electronic Systems (LES) Seaspray active electronically scanned (AESA) surveillance radar, a Controp electro-optical (EO) imager, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) application and line-of-site (LOS) and satellite communications links.
For their part, the baseline Mexican aircraft are logged as having been fitted with uprated Williams International FJ44 turbofans, a retractable EO sensor (mounted in the rear of their ventral gondolas), a LES radar (possibly the contractor’s Vixen 500E equipment) and mission control and air-ground picture operator consoles.
Thus far, BIRD has not revealed details of the sensor fit applied to its latest African aircraft other than to say that they will be able to communicate with ASIO mission control stations installed aboard the customer’s naval vessels and in associated ground facilities and that the onboard equipment will be integrated via BIRD’s mission management system architecture. Again, the company characterises the described programme as being a turnkey effort which includes overhaul and upgrade elements via its BIRD Aviation Cyprus subsidiary (a wholly owned maintenance and repair organisation that was launched in 2017).
In addition to the described applications, BIRD is also known to have collaborated with the US Textron concern on a Citation-based ASIO demonstrator which was displayed at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow. Here, aircraft N215CJ was shown fitted out with a Seaspray 5000 AESA radar, a high-definition Controp EO imager, an AIS application, LOS and satellite communications, a dual screen operator’s station and an auxiliary tablet display for the platform’s pilot and mission commander. Elsewhere, BIRD is further known to have undertaken an upgrade programme on Mexico’s ASIO Citations.