Many of us don’t think about the great deal of training Air Force pilots must complete on a regular basis to remain ready and at their best for any situation, let alone who provides them with that training. Bering Sea EccoTech (BSE) is the “go-to” company for many Department of Defense units training its pilots for air combat.
Founded in 2003, BSE is an Alaska Native-owned government services and general contractor that contracts with the Department of Defense to provide air combat training. There are currently 38 sites worldwide, including sites in Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany and the UK.
The company assists the units it supports in planning and implementing training strategies through the use of combat simulations, where it uses Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pods to track the pilots’ maneuvers and give feedback on how to improve their tactics.
During combat simulations, BSE’s pods also make it possible for aircraft to communicate with one another and with intelligence on the ground, “basically like text messages,” says B.T. Smith, director of technical and munitions response services at BSE. Smith is a retired Air Force pilot with a degree in contracting and acquisitions management. He made a career out of flying F-4s, 1-11s and others. “So, although I’m not flying, I’m still very much involved with the training that’s going on in the field,” Smith adds.
“The pilots will go fly and we’ll sit on the radios and monitor their flight, watch them as they’re doing their maneuvers and validate their desired learning objectives to make sure they’re going through the maneuvers to be certain they’re meeting their training requirements,” Smith says.
According to Smith, as of July 2017, BSE is the first contractor to provide this type of training support worldwide.
BSE prides itself on its abundance of retired military employees, comprising about 85 percent of BSE’s staff. When asked about what makes BSE different from its competitors, Smith says that there are many other companies that have provided the same types of services, “but nobody has taken someone who is a previous fighter pilot and put him in charge of organizing these trainings.”
With the staff consisting largely of former pilots and retired military personnel, it makes it easier to accomplish the work as they can use their first-hand experience to understand the needs and expectations of those combat trainings.
Smith is a big “people person,” and says that along with working with the young pilots, his favorite part of the job is shepherding everyone. “I like being able to try to take care of people. You know, working the people issues and making sure that we’re fitting everything together. Some of the sites don’t have a lot of people, so it’s important that you match personalities, giving everybody the chance to work together to get the job done. It’s just a neat challenge,” he says.
Within the past five years, BSE has expanded and gained 13 more sites around the world. The company has grown significantly over the past few years and shows positive signs of continuing this growth.
TO THE POINT:
Bering Sea EccoTech (BSE)
Address: 606 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. B2, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: B.T. Smith, director of technical and munitions response services