The United States military issued a Request for proposal for a jet trainer for use by the United States Air Force and United States Navy. Cessna responded with the 526 based on the Cessna 525 CitationJet business jet it included 75% commonality including the wings, engine, landing gear. Also common were the electrical, hydraulic and fuel system. New were a tandem two-seat cockpit with zero-zero ejection seats, new fuselage and tail unit.
The prototype first flew on 20 December 1993 and was followed by a second prototype on 2 March 1994.
The CitationJet did not succeed in the competition which was won by a variant of the Pilatus PC-9 which became the T-6 Texan II.