Airbus (formerly EADS) is a Dutch company that produces and maintains the M51 submarine-launched nuclear missiles for the French navy. Through joint venture MBDA,  Airbus is also providing medium-range air-to-surface missiles to the French air force.

Company profile

Airbus Group, based in the Netherlands, engages in the manufacture and sale of commercial aircraft, civil and military helicopters, commercial space launch vehicles, missiles, military aircraft, satellites, military systems and military electronics.[i] In May 2014, the company changed its corporate name from EADS to Airbus Group.

In the year ending 31 December 2015, Airbus Group generated revenues of € 64.5 billion, resulting in an operating income of € 4.1 billion and a net income of € 2.7 billion.[ii]

[i]      Airbus Group, “Annual Report 2015”, Airbus Group, February 2016.

[ii]     Airbus Group, “Financial Statements 2015”, Airbus Group, February 2016.

Contact Information

Twitter: @AirbusGroup

Tweet: #Nuclear missiles or planes? What do you want @Airbus to make? Say #goodbyenukes #Nuclear missiles or planes? What do you want @Airbus to make? Say #goodbyenukes


Nuclear weapons

Airbus and its predecessor companies have been involved in the French nuclear weapons programme from the outset. In December 2004, EADS Space Transportation was awarded a ten-year contract with a value in excess of € 3 billion for the production of the M51 missile, an upgrade from the M45 carrying the same warhead (TN75).[i] The first nuclear submarine to be equipped with the M51 was Le Terrible in 2010, followed by the other new-generation submarines, Le Vigilant, delivered in 2013, Triomphant, delivered in 2015, and Le Téméraire, for which the overhaul started in 2016.[ii] Airbus is also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the M45 and M51 missiles.[iii]

A second version of the missile, the M51.2, with new nuclear warheads, was commissioned in July 2010, expected to enter into service in 2016.[iv] It is equipped with a new sea-launched nuclear warhead (TNO) developed by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, CEA).[v] In 2014, Airbus announced that it was also awarded a contract for the development of the third version of the ballistic missile, M51.3.[vi]

MBDA-Systems, a joint venture between BAE Systems (37.5%), Airbus (37.5%) and Leonardo-Finmeccanica (25%), supplied the medium-range air-to-surface missile ASMPA to the French air force, which has been operational since 2009. It carries an airborne nuclear warhead developed by the CEA.[vii] In July 2014, MBDA commenced work on design and development of the mid-life upgrade of the ASMPA, to extend life through 2035. The contract has a value of € 57.3 million.[viii] Reportedly, MBDA is also charged with the development of the ASMPA-successor ASN4G, to be operational in 2035.[ix]




The following financial institutions have made approximately US$ 32,274 million available to this producer since January 2013.

  • ANZ
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA)
  • Bank of America
  • Bank of New York Mellon
  • Barclays
  • BayernLB
  • BlackRock
  • BNP Paribas
  • BPCE Group
  • Capital Group
  • Children’s Investment Fund Management
  • Citigroup
  • Commerzbank
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Crédit Agricole
  • Crédit Mutuel CIC Group
  • Credit Suisse
  • Danske Bank

  • DBS
  • Deka Group
  • Deutsche Bank
  • DZ Bank
  • European Investment Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Greenhaven Associates
  • Helaba
  • HSBC
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  • ING Group
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • KfW
  • Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW)
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Manulife Financial
  • MassMutual Financial
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial

  • Mizuho Financial
  • Morgan Stanley
  • New York Life Insurance
  • Primecap Management
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken
  • Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales
  • Société Générale
  • Standard Chartered
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
  • T.Rowe Price
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank
  • UBS
  • UniCredit
  • Vanguard
  • Westpac


This page last updated 30 November 2016.

[i]      EADS, “Contract for Production of the M51 Weapon System”, News release EADS, 23 December 2004.

[ii]     Marine Nationale, “Modernisation de la force océanique stratégique : le SNLE Le Triomphant adapté au M51”, Website Ministère de la Défense, 13 August 2015 (, viewed June 2016;
Gautier, J., Pintat, X. & Reiner, D., “Projet de loi de finances pour 2015 : Défense : équipement des forces”, Sénat (France), 20 November 2014 (

[iii]    Airbus Group, “2014 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report”, Airbus Group, May 2015.

[iv]    Airbus Group, “Registration Document 2015”, Airbus Group, April 2016;
Gautier, J., Pintat, X. & Reiner, D., “Projet de loi de finances pour 2015 : Défense : équipement des forces”, Sénat (France), 20 November 2014 (;
Sénat de France, “Défense: Équipement des Forces – Avis présenté au nom de la commission des affaires étrangères, de la défense et des forces armées (1) sur le projet de loi de finances pour 2016, adopt’e par l’Assemble Nationale”, Sénat de France, Session Ordinaire de 2015-2016, 19 November 2015.

[v]     Airbus Defense & Space, “M51”, Website Airbus Defense & Space (, viewed June 2016;
Defence – Aerospace, “M51 Missile Nears First Test Launch; Will Equip Final SSBN in 2010”, Website Defence – Aerospace (,-new-ssbn-mark-renewal-of-french-naval-deterrent%3C%C2%A7strong%3E.html), viewed June 2016;
Commission de la défense nationale et des forces armées, “Compte rendu n° 46”, Assemblée Nationale, 16 April 2014 (;
Direction Générale de l’Armement, “2010 Activity report”, Ministère de la Défense et des Anciens Combattans, March 2011.

[vi]    Airbus Defence & Space, “29 aircraft and 14 satellites ordered – A historic year for space activities with Ariane 6 up and running and the creation of Airbus Safran Launchers”, News release Airbus Defence & Space, 21 January 2015 (

[vii]    Direction Générale de Ármement, “Le missile ASMPA”, Website Direction Générale de Ármement, 24 March 2016 (

[viii]   Ministère de Finances et des Comptes Publics, “Extrait du Bleu Budgétaire de la Mission: Défense”, Ministère de Finances et des Comptes Publics, 7 October 2014 (;
Tran, P., “France Studies Nuclear Missile Replacement”, Website DefenseNews, 29 November 2014 (

[ix]       Tran, P., “Onera explores Mach-8 Missile Engine Technology”, Website DefenseNews, 17 October 2015 (;
Merchet, J.D., “MBDA, une entreprise pionnière de l’Europe de défense”, Website L’Opinion, 23 March 2015 (;
Hollande, F., “Discours sur la dissuasion nucléaire – Déplacement auprès des forces aériennes stratégiques. Istres (13)”, Présidence de la Republique Française, 19 February 2015 (;
Warwick, G. & L. Dickerson, “Arming New Platforms Will Push Up Value Of Missiles Market”, Website Aviation Week, 5 January 2015 (


In some nuclear-armed states – in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and France – private companies are hired by governments to carry out work on maintaining and modernising nuclear arsenals. This report looks at companies that are providing the necessary components to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons.The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. The companies described are substantially involved in the nuclear weapons programmes of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, or India and are themselves based in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.


The nuclear weapon producers identified were selected on the basis of a predetermined set of criteria.
– Information on investments is publicly available.
– The company is directly involved in the development, testing, production, maintenance or trade of nuclear weapons related technology, parts, products or services.
– The company’s involvement is related to warheads, or to delivery systems such as missiles, that are specifically developed for nuclear tasks. This includes technology that is designed for ‘dual use’ (military and civilian) but excludes technology that is not designed for, but can be used in nuclear warfare. It does not include delivery platforms such as bombers and submarines.

State owned or controlled nuclear industries are outside the scope of this research, as are companies not publicly listed. Our research uncovered a number of Universities involved in nuclear weapons programmes, but these are also outside the scope of the report.

The list of nuclear weapon producers investigated was compiled through a wide variety of sources, including financial institution exclusion lists, civil society reports, media reports, etc. Additional details on the contracts and components can be found in the Annex. We welcome information at any time about possible nuclear weapons producing companies to investigate.