The merging of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military into Airbus Defense and Space is much more than a rebranding.

According to Max Baldwin, the new company’s London-based international market-development chief, a rejuvenated workforce is learning to interoperate in ways that better serve current and future customers, and the instant formation of Europe’s largest defense company is giving momentum to programs across the different divisions.

“The biggest in Europe is an interesting thing to have built,” Baldwin tells ShowNews. “It’s really going to put us in a position where if we put our portfolio together properly – which we’ve been working for the last six months to do – then we’re going to be able to respond to the customer in a way that other companies can’t.”

Baldwin believes the unified company will have a competitive advantage in fields such as cyber-security and ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance), where an overall capability may be delivered by a range of assets working in concert and where industrial innovation crosses areas that may in the past have been stovepiped. The world’s militaries are increasingly working in coalitions and across domains: Industry has to respond in a similarly innovative manner.

“Joining together all the different parts of the portfolios means that we’re unique in the way we’re going to be able to respond at solution level,” he says. “There’s not many other companies that can do that globally. I think one thing that Airbus Defense and Space can do is we can work at a country and a governmental level – because when there is a requirement we can look at the portfolio and be able to deliver a large proportion of it.”

Much was learned in what Baldwin refers to as the EADS “experiment,” where different Airbus divisions were combined into a single structure beginning in 2000. As with all experiments, some aspects worked better than others.

“We had two boards, not a single board: That was a necessity at the time, but to become entrepreneurial you can’t run off two boards,” Baldwin admits. “So we transferred to the one board. We’re 70% shareholder-based now, which is a massive change over the last two years. So now what you see is the ownership of the governments being less, and the shareholders really driving the company, so it’s got more of an entrepreneurial spirit. And this transformation is supporting that entrepreneurial requirement.”

Employee morale is high, boosted by positive feedback from customers who are already seeing the benefits of a unified vision. Disappointment over the failed merger with BAE Systems has been forgotten.

“I think BAE would’ve made a big difference in the UK, and certainly with some of the platforms, but I don’t think it would have made the same sort of difference, at the same level of entirety, that we’ve seen coming through this transformation,” Baldwin argues. “It wasn’t the be-all and end-all. I think what we’ve built without that still makes us number one.”