MBDA (BAE Systems, Airbus, Leonardo)

Last updated 11 August 2023

MBDA is a missile and missile systems producer, which was formed in 2001 from the merger of the missile systems units of BAE Systems in the UK, Airbus in France, and Leonardo in Italy. It is owned 37.5% each by Airbus and BAE, and 25% by Leonardo. It subsequently acquired missile producers in Germany and Spain, and has established a presence in the US.

According to the  MBDA website, “MBDA is a world-class leader in missiles and missile systems…
It is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems to meet the whole range of current and future needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). MBDA missile systems are in service with more than 90 armed forces worldwide.”

In 2021, MBDA was ranked 27th in the SIPRI list of the world’s Top 100 arms and military services companies, with total revenue of $5,007 million, almost entirely arms sales. In 2022, MBDA’s revenues were €4,200 million ($4,420 million).

MBDA UK had revenues of £1,038.8 million in 2022, based on information from Companies House, compared to £1,126 million in 2021. [1] It had 4,494 employees at the end of 2022, out of 14,000 for MBDA as a whole. According to their annual accounts for 2022, about half their revenue comes from the UK MOD, and half from exports, of which about 30% is to other European countries and 20% to the rest of the world.

Missiles produced in the UK include air-to-air (ASRAAM and Meteor), air-to-surface (long-range Storm Shadow, and shorter range Brimstone and Spear), surface-to-surface (Brimstone surface-launched and Maritime Brimstone), surface-to-air (EMADS system and CAMM missiles), and naval air defence systems (Sea Ceptor).

According to SIPRI data, between 2018-22 MBDA UK exported missiles to Chile (CAMM), Greece (Meteor), India (Meteor), New Zealand (CAMM), Oman (ASRAAM), Qatar (Meteor and ASRAAM), and Saudi Arabia (Meteor and Brimstone, and in previous years Storm Shadow). The UK government has also given stocks of Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine as military aid.

Since the start of the Saudi war on Yemen in 2015, the UK has approved export licences to Saudi Arabia for around £2.8 billion worth of air-to-air missiles (almost certainly MBDA Meteors), and £347 million worth of air-to-surface missiles (almost certainly MBDA Brimstone and/or Storm Shadow). The UK government has confirmed that MBDA Brimstone ground attack missiles and Storm Shadow cruise missiles have been used by the Royal Saudi Air Force in Yemen. (Foreign Office, March 2016)


[1] This does not include revenue from two small subsidiaries, MBDA UAE and MBDA International, which provide support services for MBDA equipment in the Middle East and India, and which had combined revenues of £2.7 million in 2021, but have not yet reported for 2022.


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