Australia vs United States (USA) 2017 - Who Would Win? Military Comparison

Australia vs United States (USA) 2017 - Who Would Win? Military Comparison

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Back by popular demand is another military comparison. This time we are featuring two fairly new countries, nations that at one point in time were colonies of the United Kingdom. The USA gained its independence on July 4, 1776. Australia gained its independence on January 1, 1901, when the Brits passed legislation to give the six Australian colonies the right to govern themselves under the Commonwealth of Australia. Unlike the USA, the country sometimes called “Down-under” has not vied for world dominance, although it has enjoyed a fairly good standard of living and economic prosperity. The countries are certainly not enemies, unless you play Grand Theft Auto which pits them head-to-head in a fictional conflict. How would they fare against each other if that were a reality? That’s what we are going to find out today, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Australia vs the United States.

Let’s start with Australia. At around 2,969,907 sq. miles (7.69 million square kilometers), the country is the 6th largest in the world. Much of it is uninhabited, as many of Australia’s population live close to the coast on different sides of the country. If you look at population density maps, you will see just how much of Australia’s 24,659,200 people are huddled into small chunks of the country. Australia's indigenous, Aboriginal people may have lived in the harsh environment of central Oz, but for most Australians, much of their huge country is a no man’s land. Australia’s nominal GDP for 2016 was $1.257 trillion, making it the 13th largest GDP in the world just above Spain and just below Russia. GDP per capita is $49,927.

Now let’s turn to some USA basics. The USA is also a very large country at 3,797,000 sq. miles (9.63 million square kilometers), although it’s way more crowded than Australia. This makes it the third largest country behind Canada and Russia, although it is also very similar in size to China.  It has a population of 325,365,000. The US GDP is 19.417 trillion dollars, and $57,466 per capita. We could say the US has the world’s biggest economy, but many experts now say this is China. The International Monetary Fund, CIA Factbook, and World Bank all say China is number one. An interesting article recently published by Pew Global explains that various countries around the world have a different opinion on who has the biggest GDP, with slightly more countries believing the USA is still the larger economy.

One thing we know for sure is that the USA spends a lot more on its military than any other country in the world, and by a country mile, too. Its military is regarded as the strongest in the world, and it probably should be with a 611 billion dollar defense budget, which is about 3.3 percent of the GDP. That was for 2016, and sometimes the figure is stated as slightly less. For 2017, Donald Trump’s budget for defense is around 587 billion dollars, which is by far the biggest chunk of the USA’s discretionary budget. More than a third of that goes to operations and maintenance, with just less than a quarter on military personnel. The most expensive program at the moment are those rather pricey F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The budget for those alone was 11.6 billion dollars in 2016 and will be 10.5 billion in 2017. To put that into perspective, the Environmental Protection Agency is allocated $7.65 billion for 2017.

Australia doesn’t spend much by comparison, but is still 12th on the list of the biggest defense spenders in the world. Some sources put Brazil ahead and some behind. For 2017 it will spend 24.1 billion US dollars. According to the Australian government, it’s going to spend big over the next decade, with some military media stating that the country intends to become a “lethal military force”. The ministry of defense said recently that it has a “commitment to security and stability around the globe” as relations between various countries seem tenuous at the moment. Much of the money spent will go to the navy, which is not surprising given the country’s geographical location. It has also joined in the spending frenzy on the aforementioned F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

What do these two countries get for their money? In terms of feet on the ground, out of the USA’s 325 million people, 1.3 million are active military personnel, and a further 811,000 act as reserve personnel. This is much larger than Australia’s 61,000 active personnel and 21,000 reserves.

Not surprisingly the USA also has a lot more land equipment. In total, it has 5,884 tanks, 41,000 armored fighting vehicles, 1,934 self-propelled guns, 1,299 towed artillery, and 1,331 multiple-launch rocket systems. Only China, and easily Russia, outgun the USA when it comes to tank strength. This also includes some of the most fierce land equipment ever, consisting of the mighty M-1 Abrams tank – the world’s best according to some pundits – the M-109A6 Paladin self-propelled gun, and the tried and tested TOW Anti-Tank Missile.

Australia has just 59 tanks, 2,040 armored fighting vehicles, 0 self-propelled artillery, 75 towed artillery, and 0 multiple-launch rocket systems. It does have some good tanks, though, which in the past were the highly rated Leopard 1s, but they have been replaced with M-1 Abrams, just in much smaller quality than that of the USA.

Where the United States exceeds every country on the planet is with its air force.  As you know, the US is not shy on spending big here, and it is almost spoiled for choice. It has around 13,444 aircrafts in total, many of which are the best ever made. This includes scores of F-22A Raptors, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15E Strike Eagles and the expensive F-35A Lightning II. The U.S. also has a large fleet of the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornets, some of which have been converted to F/A-18E Super Hornets.

We already know Australia has spent on the F-35, but a rather startling piece of news emerged in September, and that was that it’s two brand new F-35’s have a major problem. They don’t work, according to Australian media. The USA has also had its fair share of problems trying to get these things combat ready. Australian news reported that the planes “will likely require many millions being sunk into reconstruction and upgrade before they are fully capable of fighting on the front line.” The country has a total of 465 aircraft, just over 150 of which are fighter and attack aircraft. It also has a small fleet of F/A-18F Super Hornets and F/A-18A and B Hornets as well as EA-18G Growlers.

As for the navy, Global Firepower puts the USA as the third strongest behind China and North Korea. This is only in size, though. It puts Australia down in 54th place. In total, the USA has 415 ships and Australia has 47 ships. The U.S. has a total of 11 aircraft carriers, 22 cruisers, 67 destroyers, 8 frigates, 75 submarines, 0 corvettes, 9 amphibious assault ships, 11 mine warfare ships, and 55 patrol ships. We also have to take into account what all wealthy countries want, and that’s a huge super carrier. America may have the best in the Gerald R. Ford class super-carrier. Australia is also one of few nations to own aircraft carriers. While they might not be the behemoths of the US navy, the almost new HMAS Canberra and the HMAS Adelaide are impressive beasts. The ozzies also own 11 frigates, 0 destroyers, 0 corvettes, 6 submarines, 13 patrol craft, and 6 mine warfare ships.

Another thing, as you well know, the USA owns just less than half of all the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons. Australia doesn’t have any and doesn’t seem interested in developing them. It does, however, have aircraft that could deliver them.

In conclusion, these two countries have been strong allies for a very long time. If anything did happen to break that bond, America is far too powerful for Australia. The only chance Australia would have is that harsh environment its people are used to living in. Maybe all those dangerous creatures that inhabit the country would get onside.

So, what do you think of this theoretical matchup? Does Australia possibly stand a chance? Let us know in the comments! 


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