For the last 60 years, European nations have been enjoying, for the most part, relative peace and stability. Though, for two millennia prior, this part of the world saw almost continual conflict. Two such nations with a long history of conflict are France and Germany. While the modern spectator of international relations would tell you that presently these two countries don’t harbor any apparent enmity, for centuries past they were almost devout enemies. Today we’re going to look at what might happen if these two powerful European nations once again took up arms against each other, in this episode of The Infographics Show, Germany vs. France.
Germany is a country of just over 82 million people, that borders several countries including France in the southwest. Renowned for its engineering ingenuity and on the whole a highly productive society, Germany has the 5th highest GDP in the world of around $3.842 trillion. It would be in 4th place if we discounted the European Union. This is the highest GDP in Europe, with the UK trailing in 9th place.
In 10th place is France, with a GDP of around $2.647 trillion. France is not considered equal to Germany in terms of industrial prowess, but it is and has been considered a global leader regarding arts, science and development of society in general. France has a population of 67 million people. It is much bigger than Germany at about 250,000 sq miles (248,573 mi²) (643,801 km²), with Germany being about 138,000 sq miles (137,983 mi²) (357,374 km²).
Germany has a defense budget of 41.1 billion dollars, which is 1.2 percent of its GDP. This is compared to France’s 55.7 billion dollar budget, which is 2.3 percent of its GDP. These are both relatively large expenditures and are the only European nations in the top ten of biggest military budgets besides the UK.
In terms of military power, Germany is usually ranked in the top ten of the world’s most powerful militaries. Its active frontline personnel number 180,000 with another 145,000 being active reserve personnel. France, which is usually ranked higher than Germany in terms of military strength, has 205,000 active frontline personnel and 195,700 active reserve personnel.
As for land weaponry, Germany has 543 tanks, 5,869 armored fighting vehicles, 154 self-propelled guns, 0 towed artillery, and 50 multiple-launch rocket systems.
France has 406 tanks, 6,863 AFVs, 325 SPGs, 233 towed artillery, and 44 MLRSs.
Both countries have tanks that are regarded as some of the best tank technology in the world. Which machine is better, is debatable. Germany’s vanguard tank is the Leopard 2 and its various successors, notably the Leopard 2A7, which Germany is said to have around 20 of. The total number of Leopard 2s built over the years is 3,480. France’s pride and joy is the AMX Leclerc, with around 400 units in use in the French army.
As far as air power goes, Germany has a much smaller fleet of aircraft than France with 698 aircraft in total. This combines 92 fighters, 169 fixed wing attack aircraft, 345 transport aircraft, 47 trainer aircraft, 375 helicopters, and 47 attack helicopters.
Of France’s 1,305 total aircraft, 296 are fighters, 284 are fixed wing attack aircraft, 662 transport aircraft, 283 trainer aircraft, 610 helicopters, and 49 attack helicopters.
Numbers aside, France is seen as having a vastly superior air force to Germany, not only because of aircraft technology, but also its missile technology. Perhaps its feather in the hat is its Dassault Rafale omnirole fighter, largely believed to be one of the best fighting machines ever to take to the skies. Fast and furious, the fighter carries an arsenal of missiles, including an ASMP nuclear missile, and is also endowed with the latest radar systems. There are currently 108 of these planes in service.
Germany may not have built a plane to contend with the Dassault Rafale, but it does own over 125 Eurofighter Typhoons, which was developed and built by the countries of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Germany’s air force was maybe the most feared air force in the world during the second world war, and its pilots, many of whom are trained in the United States, are highly rated. Still, for sheer numbers and technology, France wins in the air.
Germany’s navy also pales in comparison to the French navy. Its naval power consists of 10 frigates, 0 destroyers, 5 corvettes, 6 submarines, 13 mine warfare, 11 replenishment ships, and 20 miscellaneous auxiliary vessels. Its main concern is protecting territorial waters and global peacekeeping.
The French navy, on the other hand, is often said to be one of the strongest navies in the world. Its 86 vessels consist of 11 frigates, 4 air-defense destroyers, 8 anti-submarine destroyers, 0 corvettes, 10 submarines, 16 mine warfare, 17 coastal defense craft, 3 amphibious assault ships, and one aircraft carrier. This navy is considered far more powerful than that of Germany, and if expected of it, could also be far more aggressive.
For this hypothetical battle to take place, it not only requires personnel, weapons, and technology, but also a lot of oil to fuel it. Germany produces around 48,000 barrels of oil a day and consumes 2.4 million barrels daily. It has around 100,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves. France produces around 15,340 barrels a day, consumes 1.7 million, and has about 84 million barrels in proven oil reserve.
As far as nuclear capabilities go, the French are third behind Russia and the USA in the number of nuclear warheads. France’s 300 nuclear warheads, 280 of which are active, is 300 more than Germany has. We should note here that when Germany signed The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, that was negotiated in 1990, it agreed to limit its army, navy, and air force, and also agreed not to manufacture nuclear weapons. The country is part of the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program, which means nuclear arms can be supplied by the countries that have them.
Such a treaty was the result of the two world wars, but one could say it’s also testament to how the world held Germany’s military might in awe. Germany and its allies were not far away from winning World War II, due to excellent military strategy and advanced weaponry. France and Germany are both close allies now, and there is little to no chance that a war could break-out between the countries. On a purely hypothetical basis, though, France may have the stronger military. At the same time, would anyone want to underestimate Germany? The war would not be fought between just the two countries, of course, and the matter of who’s allied with whom would depend on the circumstances of what started the war. But for argument’s sake, let’s say no one else got involved, who do you think would win? Let us know in the comments! And if you like these military comparisons, be sure to watch the European Union vs the United States.