Drones: Unmet Needs Project Management

Description

Border security in the Middle East is a major concern, especially for the politically stable countries in the region, especially the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Turkey. The emergence of extremist groups such as the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant and Al Qaeda is another threat to the political stability in the region (Cahan 56). Governments of countries in this region need modern technology-based means of managing the border and internal security. I have knowledge about the existence of the problem because of the news reports about constant terror attacks in the Middle East and the increasing problem of migration.

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These countries need systems and structures that can help border patrol officers, intelligence-gathering agencies, and law enforcement units to monitor suspicious activities within and along the borders as a way of enhancing border security (Cortright et al. 90). The use of normal military jets and foot soldiers is no longer as effective as it was in the past because of the sophistication of the strategies that these criminals use. In this project, I propose the introduction of a tri-hybrid system military drone, which uses solar panels on its wings’ battery and gasoline to power it. The drone is aimed to be sold in the Middle East for border patrol and defeating terrorism.

Background

The instability in the Middle East is a problem that has persisted for the last several decades. The war between Israel and various Arab countries led by Egypt has left the West Bank and the Gaza strip as some of the most volatile places in the world (Swain and Jägerskog 78). Iraq has never experienced political stability since the Western world supported rebels in their attempt to overthrow the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.

The Arab Spring worsened the situation as it affected the stability of several countries such as Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia (Behnassi and McGlade 23). Algerian and Sudanese regimes are some of the recent casualties of the Arab Spring as the region fought for democratic rule. The problem with the Arab Spring is that most of those who come to power after the replacement of dictators lack the capacity to unite their countries towards a common goal.

Libya, which was one of the most economically successful countries in Africa, has become one of the best grounds for the growth of terror groups such as ISIL because of political instability. Egypt has been forced to replace several rulers after Hosni Mubarak was toppled (Ryan 87). These events cause major concerns to regional regimes that are still in power. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar are some of the countries in the area that have survived the revolution. They have to ensure that their national borders are protected from terrorists and criminals from other countries who may want to engage in activities that can cause instability.

Currently, security agencies face the laborious task of using officers to conduct physical surveillance of border points, especially those considered prone to infiltration by illegal immigrants. This strategy is attractive to officers who have to spend long hours at these border points. The proposed strategy would make life simpler, less worrisome, more manageable, and fulfilling for these officers because they can monitor activities at the border while they are at their offices. The national government, through relevant ministries and security organs, is the institution responsible for overcoming the security challenge in the territory. From a business or entrepreneurial angle, there is an enormous business opportunity that can be tapped by offering solutions to the current unmet security needs.

The region needs systems and structures that can improve its security. A goal is to come up with technology-based solutions that would make it possible to achieve the set security goals. Interested entrepreneurs, including myself, will be candidates that will pursue this opportunity. Considering that I have limited experience and financial capacity to pursue the opportunity as a single entity, partnership with top industries would be critical in achieving success. I intend to collaborate with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on this project.

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Players

The issue of security in the Middle East is a concern for government agencies. In the United Arab Emirates, the main players (customers expected to purchase the product) include the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, which are directly responsible for security in the country. The Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence may be involved to determine the relevance of the drone in managing security matters of the country, while the Ministry of Finance will be requested to approve and release the needed funds for the project.

Similar government agencies in regional countries will have to be involved in this project. A few private security agencies working closely with regional governments, such as Kellogg Brown & Root Inc, Defion Internacional, and Erinys International, may also be engaged because of their integrity and commitment to fighting terrorism at an international level (Grundvig 53). However, their level of involvement would be subject to government approval.

The security problem that needs to be addressed has been identified. However, it is necessary to collaborate with some of the established industry players to help address the problem. The goal is to have a tri-hybrid system military drone, which uses solar panels on its wings’ battery and gasoline to power its operations. However, the success of the project would require some form of partnership with top manufacturers of drones in the country.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is one of the most successful manufacturers of military drones in the global market (Masutti and Tomasello 112). The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper shown in figure 1 below has a design that closely resembles the tri-hybrid system military desired in this project. The primary assumption, in this case, is that the manufacturer will be willing to develop the desired design of the aerial unmanned vehicle (AUV) if awarded appropriate compensation.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper.
Figure 1. General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Kreps 67).

Solution

The solution will be to design and commercially produce drones capable of gathering intelligence in the air for a long time without having to come back to the operations center for refueling. The proposed drone will be able to transmit information remotely back to the head office in real-time. The hybrid version will mostly use solar power, only relying on gasoline when the strength of sunlight is insufficient to support its operations.

The intelligence gathered will enable officers to plan and execute corrective measures when a threat is noticed at the border or inside the country. When addressing the problem identified above, it is necessary to articulate the institutions that would be involved.

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On the side of the client, the plan is to work closely with targeted government agencies responsible for gathering intelligence. In Saudi Arabia, the chosen institutions will be the General Intelligence Presidency and the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense (Al-Saleh 64). The two institutions are responsible for intelligence gathering and protecting the borders of the country from any form of external aggression.

In Turkey, the National Intelligence Organization, Joint Chief of Staff Intelligence Bureau, and Police Intelligence Bureau will be involved as they work closely to gather foreign and local intelligence on issues that may affect the security and stability of the country (Fosshagen 88). In the United Arab Emirates, the chosen institutions include the National Electronic Security Authority and Military Intelligence Security Services because of their role in enhancing security in the country (Teti et al. 37).

Business partners will include General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Challenger Aerospace System. General Atomics was chosen because of its experience and financial capacity in this industry. On the other hand, Challenger Aerospace System was considered a viable business partner because it has recently launched Manta-Ray, shown in figure 2 below, which is close to the final product, the tri-hybrid system military drone.

The drone is considered the most appropriate intelligence gathering tool that these governments can use to address the problem of the border insecurity and the increasing threat of terrorist attacks. The two partners will focus on the design and production of the product, while I, as one of the entrepreneurs in the project, will focus on the business aspect of this project.

Challenger Aerospace System’s Manta Ray.
Figure 2. Challenger Aerospace System’s Manta Ray (Kreps 65).

Business Plan

Security is currently one of the major areas in which governments in the Middle East make a heavy investment because of the issue of terrorism and the growing political instability in various countries. It is important to develop an effective business plan that will guide the team to not only win the tender but also maintain a close business relationship with these governments. In 2016 alone, the United Arab Emirates spent $23.5 billion, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent $69.4 billion, while Turkey spent $11.5 billion on security (Teti et al. 90).

A significant portion of these expenditures goes to intelligence gathering. The assumption is that the business deal would enable the partners to get contracts worth at least 10% in security expenses in each country. The following areas of operation will define the ability of the created form to achieve success.

Marketing

When developing a business plan, one of the areas that should be defined in clear terms is the marketing strategy that will be employed. Grundvig argues that developing a product is just one step towards achieving success in the market (34). The product must be promoted to ensure that customers are aware of its superiority over other brands. The strategy that is used to promote security-related products is significantly different from that of security goods (Masutti and Tomasello 11).

In this case, the product is meant for specific government departments. Instead of using mass and social media, the plan is to use detailed catalogs meant for senior government officials explaining the nature of the product, how it is used, its unique characteristics, its competitive prices, and reasons why it is the most appropriate for countries in the Middle East. A company’s representative will also be present with a sample of the product to demonstrate how various security intelligence agencies can use it to enhance border and internal security.

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This strategy is considered effective because of the physical interaction between the organizational buyer and the supplier. It is less costly when compared with other promotional campaigns. The firm will also get immediate feedback from the customer.

Production/Operations

The two business partners will be responsible for the production of the tri-hybrid system military drone. Challenger Aerospace System will develop the design while General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will conduct the actual production of the drone. The design developed by Challenger Aerospace shares similar characteristics with the proposed tri-hybrid system, but General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has the experience when it comes to the production of military drones. Its drones have been used by some of the most powerful military units in the world such as the United States Armed Forces, the British Army, and the French Armed Forces (Al-Saleh 34).

As such, it is easy to market the brand to governments in the Middle East because they trust the producer. Using the design provided, General Atomics Aeronautical System will produce the drones at its plant depending on the demand. The main customers will be government agencies named above, and it is expected that they will be specific when making their order. To lower the cost of storage, the trio in this business intends to conduct their production on demand.

Finance

The project should be adequately financed to ensure that the set goals are realized (Swain and Jägerskog 119). Each of the three parties will have specific financial obligations that would represent their returns from the project. Instead of making financial contributions, each party will fund activities assigned to them and will be compensated accordingly. Challenger Aerospace System is expected to develop the design. Its current design of Challenger Aerospace System’s Manta Ray may need some adjustments to meet the specifications of the product desired. The company will fund the project of designing and set the price of the final product.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will meet the financial needs of producing the drone. It should be noted that this firm would only be financially responsible for the production but not the design of the product. The entrepreneur will be in charge of marketing the product to the selected governments, securing the trade deal, and ensuring that drones are delivered as per the agreement. Moreover, the entrepreneur will meet the cost of transport to each of these countries, accommodation, and any other expenses that might arise.

Human Resources

A project can only be a success if there is a team of skilled workers who understand their role and are committed to their work (Ryan 31). It might be challenging to gather a group of experts needed for this project and, especially, to find engineers who can design and produce these military drones. However, the design of this project may help overcome the problem. Instead of starting a company from scratch, the entrepreneur has opted to work together with some of the top players in the industry.

In this strategy, each partner will be required to have experts responsible for various tasks. The two drone companies already have highly skilled and experienced engineers who design and produce military drones. As an entrepreneur, I will be primarily in charge of marketing. I am currently working on persuading relevant government officials to join this business and outlining its benefits to these countries’ security. It will be necessary to recruit local citizens in the selected countries to help in engaging these officials to ensure that they approve the project.

Information Technology and Research & Development

In the initial plan, the entrepreneur will work with the identified engineering companies to develop drones needed by the identified government. At this initial stage, the two companies will be largely responsible for the production because of the limited financial and intellectual capacity of the entrepreneur. However, the aim is to explore new markets within the region and beyond. This company will shift its business strategy after a while.

Research and development will be the areas of expansion that will be considered. Given the sensitivity of military drones, the firm will not focus on their production. However, it will specialize in marketing them to the international market.

The producers will be charged a given percentage for every product delivered. It means that General Atomics Aeronautical can opt to buy the patent from Challenger Aerospace System to avoid sharing the profit or develop its own design based on the specific criteria set if they so wish. However, this company will continue to attract more customers within the Middle East and beyond. African countries are also becoming concerned about their security. Given the economic growth and security challenges that countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa face, they can become potential customers for these products. Using effective marketing strategies, this product can become a popular security tool, regularly used in both developed and developing countries around the world.

Early Assessment

When starting every business project, it is important to have an early assessment mechanism to ensure that the team is making progress towards the intended goal. Any business venture involves spending time and resources and sustainability is one of the critical issues that cannot be ignored. The assessment helps to determine if the parties involved should continue spending more on the project or if it should be terminated. An early assessment is even more appropriate because it looks at the viability of the project before investing much time and money. The team should determine whether the proposal looks like a good business opportunity.

Security is a major concern in the Middle East, as Ryan observes, and local governments have been keen on finding ways of dealing with it (51). It is a fact that governments in this region are spending billions of dollars on security management, and one of their greatest concerns is to gather intelligence about the activities and plans of their enemies. It is also a fact that military drones have become the most effective way of gathering data, especially when information has to be collected in hostile areas which intelligence officers cannot access with ease.

The analysis shows that there is an unmet need for an effective military drone that can stay in the air for several hours and transmit data in real-time. The proposed product meets this need, and if an effective marketing strategy is used, the plan can become a lucrative business venture for the parties involved.

Works Cited

Al-Saleh, Asaad. Voices of the Arab Spring: Personal Stories of the Arab Revolutions. Columbia University Press, 2015.

Behnassi, Mohamed, and Katriona McGlade, editors. Environmental Change and Human Security in Africa and the Middle East. Springer, 2017.

Cahan, Jean, editor. Water Security in the Middle East: Essays in Scientific and Social Cooperation. Anthem Press, 2017.

Cortright, David, et al., editors. Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications. The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Fosshagen, Kjetil. Arab Spring: Uprisings, Powers, Interventions. Berghahn Books, 2014.

Grundvig, James. Dolphin Drone: A Military Thriller. Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.

Kreps, Sarah. Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Masutti, Anna, and Filippo Tomasello, editors. International Regulation of Non-Military Drones. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2018.

Ryan, Caitlin. Bodies, Power and Resistance in the Middle East: Experiences of Subjectification in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Routledge, 2016.

Swain, Ashok, and Anders Jägerskog. Emerging Security Threats in the Middle East: The Impact of Climate Change and Globalization. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

Teti, Andrea, et al. The Arab Uprisings in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia: Social, Political and Economic Transformations. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

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