The P-9A PALE ALE is an advanced Detection and Monitoring (D&M) Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) that uses a heavily modified De Havilland DHC-8 (“Dash 8”) Q202 airframe. The system is owned by Air Combat Command (ACC) and used by United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) to mitigate the gaps in their D&M area of responsibility. The Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) asset detects and monitors illicit trafficking while flying over 7,200 hours per year. Its main operating base is the U.S. Navy’s Counterdrug Cooperative Security Location in Liberia, Costa Rica. In addition to operating from its primary location, typically two to three aircraft are forward deployed approximately 730 total days each year throughout the Caribbean and Central/South America. 

The four PALE ALE aircraft are assigned to the 612 Theater Operations Group, 12AF (AFSOUTH) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) 645 Aeronautical Systems Group contracts the maintenance and aircrew to fly the USSOUTHCOM missions for the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S). 12AF (AFSOUTH) A3 fulfills Government Flight Representative (GFR) and Government Ground Representative (GGR) responsibilities associated with the operation of GOCO aircraft.