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Airbus Defence and Space
Type Division
PredecessorAirbus Military, Astrium, Cassidian [de]
FoundedJanuary 2014
Area served
Key people
Michael Schoellhorn (CEO)[1]
ProductsMilitary aircraft, launch vehicles, spacecraft
ServicesCyber security, Military intelligence
RevenueIncrease €11.2 billion[2] (2022)
872,000 euro (2017) Edit this on Wikidata
Total assetsIncrease €111.13 billion[3] (2016)
Number of employees
SubsidiariesCRISA, Spot Image, Tesat-Spacecom

Airbus Defence and Space is the division of Airbus SE responsible for the development and manufacturing of the corporation's defence and space products, while also providing related services. The division was formed in January 2014 during the corporate restructuring of European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), and comprises the former Airbus Military, Astrium and Cassidian [de] divisions.[5] It is the world's second-largest space company after Boeing and one of the top ten defence companies in the world.[6]

Airbus Defence and Space has its main office in Taufkirchen, Germany[7] and is led by chief executive officer Michael Schoellhorn.[1] The company consists of four program lines: military aircraft, space systems, connected intelligence and unmanned aerial systems.

With its presence in 35 countries, the division employed 40,000 people from 86 nationalities as of 2014[8] and contributed to 21% of Airbus revenues as of 2016.[9]


Formation of EADS and expansion (1997–2008)

Main article: Airbus

As early as 1995 the German aerospace and defence company DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and its British counterpart British Aerospace were said to be eager to create a transnational aerospace and defence company.[10] The two companies envisaged including the French corporation Aérospatiale, the other major European aerospace company, in the project but only after its privatisation as it was owned by the French state.[11] However, the merger faltered, and British Aerospace abandoned the DASA merger in favour of purchasing its domestic rival, Marconi Electronic Systems, the electronics division of General Electric Company. The merger of British Aerospace and MES to form BAE Systems was announced on 19 January 1999 and completed on 30 November.[12][13]

DASA and the Spanish aircraft company CASA agreed to merge on 11 June 1999.[14] On 14 October 1999 DASA agreed to merge with Aérospatiale (which had itself merged with the French conglomerate Matra to become Aérospatiale-Matra earlier that year) to create the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.[15] 10 July 2000 was "Day One" for the new company which became the world's second-largest aerospace company after Boeing and the second-largest European arms manufacturer after BAE Systems.[16] In January 2001 Airbus Industrie was transformed from an inherently dysfunctional consortium structure to a formal joint stock company, with legal and tax procedures being finalised on 11 July.[17][18]

On 16 June 2003 EADS acquired BAE's 25 % share in Astrium, the satellite and space system manufacturer, to become the sole owner. EADS paid £84 million, however due to the lossmaking status of the company BAE invested an equal amount for "restructuring".[19] It was subsequently renamed Astrium, and had the divisions Astrium Satellites, Astrium Space Transportation and Astrium Services.

On 1 July 2003 EADS Defence & Security Systems was founded with the merger of the activities of missile systems (LFK), defence electronics, military aircraft and telecommunications of the EADS Group. Tom Enders became the first CEO of the new division.

Airbus Military

Main article: Airbus Military

The predecessor company was established in January 1999 as the Airbus Military Company SAS to manage the Airbus A400M project, taking over from the Euroflag consortium. In May 2003, the company was restructured as Airbus Military Sociedad Limitada (AMSL) prior to the execution of the production contract. The Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) was a division of EADS which designs, manufactures and commercialises EADS-CASA light and medium transport aircraft, and headquartered in Madrid, Spain.[20] In 1999 was Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) in the EADS Group (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) incorporated. In Spain it was still referred to as EADS-CASA. The EADS-CASA division Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTA division) was also responsible for the development, production and sales of the leichten- and medium Transport and utility aircraft within the EADS Group. On 16 December 2008, EADS announced that the Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTA division) and Airbus Military SL (AMSL) as a new business unit in the Airbus SAS integrated. Airbus Military was formally created in April 2009 by the integration of the former Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) and Airbus Military Sociedad Limitada (AMSL) into Airbus. The division manufactured tanker, transport and mission aircraft including Airbus A330 MRTT, Airbus A400M, CASA C-212 Aviocar, CASA/IPTN CN-235 and EADS CASA C-295. After the merger, it also acquired the production of Eurofighter Typhoon, which was earlier under Cassidian. Eurocopter, which was earlier under Airbus Military, was reorganized as Airbus Helicopters.


Main article: Astrium

Astrium was formed in 2000 by the merger of Matra Marconi Space (itself formed from French and British companies) with the space division of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG and Computadores Redes e Ingeniería SA. Henceforth Astrium was a joint venture between EADS and BAE Systems. On 16 June 2003 the minority shareholder, BAE Systems, sold its 25% share to EADS, making EADS the sole shareholder. Astrium became EADS Astrium Satellites and in a wider restructuring became the major constituent of EADS Astrium, which also included EADS Astrium Space Transportation and EADS Astrium Services. In this restructuring the former Astrium Space Infrastructure division merged with EADS Launchers & Vehicles division to form EADS SPACE Transportation, which became later EADS Astrium Space Transportation. Also, Paradigm Secure Communications, initially created by Astrium in the frame of the Skynet 5 contract for the UK Ministry of Defence became the major constituent of EADS SPACE Services. CASA Espacio became part of EADS Astrium on 1 January 2004. EADS Astrium was the sole shareholder of Infoterra Ltd. On 1 July 2006, the French subsidiary of EADS Astrium, EADS Astrium SAS, merged with other French subsidiaries of EADS Space (especially EADS Space Transportation).


EADS Defence & Security Systems was founded on 1 July 2003. In it, the activities of missile systems (LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH), defence electronics, military aircraft and telecommunications of the EADS Group were merged. On 17 September 2010 the company name was changed to Cassidian, an amalgamation of the Latin words Cassida (helmet) and meridian, and focused on worldwide protection and security. Cassidian was further subdivided into Missiles (missile systems), Defence Electronics (defence electronics, such as sensors, electronics and mission avionics), Cassidian Air Systems (production and maintenance of military aircraft) Defence & Communication Systems (Defence and Communications Systems) and Services (military service). In 2012 a new division was incorporated as Cassidian CyberSecurity GmbH, headquartered in Ottobrunn.

Post merger (2013–present)

Airbus Defence and Space was formed in 2013 as a result of the merger of Astrium, Cassidian, and the Airbus Military divisions of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) which was itself reorganized as Airbus.[21] On 1 January 2014, the parent company EADS was restructured as Airbus, comprising three subsidiary companies that include Airbus Defence and Space, Airbus, and Airbus Helicopters.[22]

On 16 September 2014, after a detailed and comprehensive portfolio assessment, Airbus Defence and Space defined Space (Launchers & Satellites), Military Aircraft, Missiles and related Systems and Services as its future core businesses. Some business areas were identified as divestment candidates as they did not fit the strategic goals for the company. Under this plan, the commercial and para-public communication business (including Professional Mobile Radio and commercial satellite communications services activities) was divested. Subsidiaries and J.V. including Fairchild Communications, Rostock System-Technik, AVdef, ESG and Atlas Electronik were divested.[23] On 18 March 2016 the company decided to sell its defence electronics business (Defence Electronics) based in Ulm to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a global investment firm with a wide-ranging portfolio including Hospital Corporation of America, NXP Semiconductors, TDC A/S, and Dollar General.[24] From January 1, 2017. the group reorganized under the brand name of "Airbus". The subsidiaries Airbus, Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space became operating divisions of the same company.[25]

In April 2022, Airbus Defence and Space acquired the German-based cryptography and communication systems company, DSI Datensicherheit GmbH.[26]

Dec 1970 Jan 1992 July 2000 Sep 2000 Jan 2001 Dec 2006 Apr 2009 Sep 2010 Jan 2014 May 2015 Jan 2017 Apr 2017
    European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company NV Airbus Group NV Airbus Group SE Airbus SE   
Airbus Industrie GIE Airbus SAS     
  Airbus Military SAS Airbus Defence and Space SAS   
    EADS Defence and Security Cassidian SAS
    Astrium SAS EADS Astrium SAS
  Eurocopter SA Eurocopter SAS Airbus Helicopters SAS   


Airbus Defence and Space is structured into four business lines:[citation needed]


Tankers and transport aircraft

Airbus A330 MRTT

The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330. The A330 MRTT has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force. The EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45 was a version of the A330 MRTT proposed for the United States Air Force.

Airbus A400M Atlas

The Airbus A400M Atlas[27][28] is a multi-national, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.[29] The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.

The CASA C-212 Aviocar is a turboprop-powered STOL medium transport aircraft designed and built by CASA in Spain for civil and military use. C-212s are also produced under licence in Indonesia by Indonesian Aerospace (IAe), formerly called IPTN. The design was initially marketed under the name of Aviocar, but EADS-CASA no longer uses that name in referring to the C-212.


The CASA/IPTN CN-235 is a medium-range twin-engine transport aircraft that was jointly developed by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) of Spain and Indonesian manufacturer IPTN, as a regional airliner and military transport. Its primary military roles include maritime patrol, surveillance, and air transport. Its largest user is Turkey which has 59 aircraft.


The EADS CASA C-295 is a twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft, and is currently manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain.

Fighter and attack aircraft

Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter.[30][31] The Typhoon was designed and is manufactured by a consortium of Alenia Aermacchi, Airbus and BAE Systems that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986. NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency manages the project and is the prime customer.[32]

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Euro Hawk

Experimental aircraft

Ballistic missiles

In May 2016, Airbus and Safran agreed that their joint venture would work on upgrading the M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile to the M51.3 standard for the French Navy.[40]

Space systems


Ariane 4
Ariane 5

International Space Station

Columbus ISS Module

Space transportation

Orion service module

Astronomy and cosmology missions

Gaia (spacecraft)

Solar observation missions

Planetary science missions

Venus Express

Earth observation satellites

Airbus Defence and Space is the world's largest supplier of Earth observation systems with more than fifty satellites launched and 18 more under construction.[63][64]

Some of the major satellite systems built are: Envisat (the world's largest civilian Earth observation satellite.[65]), Earth Explorers such as GOCE, GRACE, Swarm, EarthCARE, Sentinel Missions, MetOp and MetOp-SG.

Telecommunication satellites

Airbus Defence and Space has manufactured over a hundred communications satellites.[66]

Some of the major telecommunication satellites built are: Alphabus, the Eutelsat series, the Astra series, the Hispasat series, the Inmarsat series, and the UK military Skynet series.

Airbus Defence and Space Spaceplane prototype


Airbus Defence and Space Spaceplane was a suborbital spaceplane concept for carrying space tourists, proposed by Airbus Defence and Space. A full-size mockup was officially unveiled in Paris, France, on 13 June 2007,[68] and is now on display in the Concorde hall of the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace.[citation needed] The project was the first space tourism entry by a major aerospace contractor.

Rocket engines

Airbus Defence and Space also produces commercial versions of its proprietary rocket engines such as HM7B, Aestus, Vinci, Vulcain[69]

One Atlas

Airbus Defence and Space launched One Atlas in October 2016, a new satellite image basemap which covers the earth landmasses with imagery.[70][71] The images available via Google Drive can be accessed around the clock, and are refreshed within a 12-month period. One Atlas was developed for defence or security missions and operations, for example assisting the mapping, reporting and updating of positions, movements or risk areas, but also providing intelligence when selecting transportation routes and access points.


Major European Airbus Defence and Space sites are located in the following places:[citation needed]

In September 2022, it was announced that Airbus Defence and Space would be setting up a research facility at Lot Fourteen, Adelaide, South Australia, in October, which would be responsible for developing new satellites for the Australian Defence Force.[72]

See also


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