The two countries we’re going to talk about today are seldom off the front pages of the international news media. As we write this, a news report tells us Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is saying Iran is waging a religious war in Syria and that the country has its sights set on attacking Israel. “Iran calls for our destruction but it’s also seeking nuclear weapons to carry out its genocidal designs,” said the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict must be one of the most divisive issues out there, with much of the press and public painting Israel as the villain. We won’t get into the politics of it all, but with these countries being on everyone’s mind, we thought we’d match them up militarily. Without further ado, welcome to this episode of the Infographics Show, Iran vs Israel.
Let’s start with the money. Israel’s defense budget for 2018 was reported as being $20 billion, which includes the yearly stipend the country gets from the USA, approximately $3.8 billion. We might also add that the Israeli defense minister is asking for another $1.4 billion to fund a military that is constantly in action. Here we will also add that Israel is to some extent under the protection of the United States, but today we’ll be focusing on Israel’s military alone, and not its power when its ever-faithful big brother steps in to assist.
Iran’s military budget is considerably lower than Israel’s, reported as $14.1 billion for 2017. Although, a Forbes article in 2018 said things are about to change, and perhaps that’s why traditional military sites are not reporting the 2018 budget. Forbes writes that The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, part of Iran’s armed forces designed to protect the Islamic Republic, is due for a massive injection of cash. “The IRGC will receive $8 billion from Iran’s fiscal budget,” writes Forbes, adding that Iran plans to spend large, even if that poses a threat to the welfare of its citizens. Forbes says Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security will get one billion, and it seems the rest will go to the traditional military. If this increased spending happens, then Iran will have more to spend than Israel, but not by much.
As for people on the ground. Israel has 615,000 military personnel. 170,000 are active personnel and 445,000 are reserves. Add to that Israel’s Shayetet 13, a special operations outfit said to be one of the best. As we said in our last show, something to bear in mind is conscription in Israel. Most Israelis, when they reach 18-years old, will become part of the military. Service time is 2 years 8 months for men and 2 years for women. We must remember this means Israel has a hell of a lot of young people already trained to fight or that have actually been involved in warfare. It’s not all action of course, with some jobs just being hanging out as a safety precaution on one of Israel’s many kibbutzim.
Iran has a bigger force, though, with a total of 934,000 military personnel. 534,000 are active personnel and 400,000 are reserves. Iran also has conscription, but it’s only applicable to men. That means once Iranians reach the age of 18, they must do somewhere between 18 months and two years in the military. We might also point out that while women are not conscripted, some do volunteer. Iran also has its special forces, from the marines to its elite Quds Force, and the Saberin Takavar Battalion, a special unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Ok, so what about equipment on the ground?
Israel has a fairly modern and well-maintained bunch of machines. This includes 2,760 battle tanks, 10,575 armored fighting vehicles, 650 self-propelled artillery, 300 towed artillery, and 148 rocker projectors. We might add that part of this is the Merkava IV main battle tank, which National Interest said in 2017 just might be the best in the world. We might add that National Interest says this about many tanks.
What about Iran’s tools of the trade?
Well, the country owns 1,650 battle tanks, 2,215 armored fighting vehicles, 440 self-propelled artillery, 2,188 towed artillery, and 1,533 rocket projectors. As for tanks, National Interest talked about an Iranian tank that was, you guessed it, “one of the best in the world.” This is the Karrar tank, which was made in Iran and is supposed to be superior to the Russian-made T-90. Iran has a number of older tanks that were made in the USA, the UK, and Russia.
We might remember that Iran and the U.S. used to be friends in the past, with the U.S. actually helping Iran to kick-off its nuclear program in the 50s. This assistance became known as “Atoms of Peace”, and yes, that was a term before it became the name of a band started by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke. We point this out only to let you know how fickle relationships can be, and so you never know, maybe one day Israel might not be a demi-protectorate of the U.S.
Compared to its land artillery, Israel’s air force is quite small. It has 252 fighter aircraft and 252 attack aircraft. Israel has also spent big on 9 F-35’s bought from the USA and also has over 70 F-16 Fighting Falcons. On top of that, they have F-15 Eagles and F-15 Strike Eagles. So, while small, there isn’t much there that hasn’t at one point been said to be a top ten aircraft.
Iran has an even smaller fleet, with 150 fighter aircraft and 158 attack aircraft. Some of those were the ones given as a gift from the USA, in a small fleet F-14 Tomcat Fighters. Add to that some rather old American-made multirole fighters in the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and Northrop F-5 Tiger II. Perhaps the best aircraft Iran has is the Russian made Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum as well as Russian Sukhoi Su24s and 25s.
In the water, neither country is very strong, with Israel having no aircraft carriers and not much of anything else. In total the country owns no frigates, no destroyers, 3 corvettes, 6 submarines, 32 patrol craft, and 0 mine warfare vessels. Iran has more to brag about, having a total of no destroyers, 5 frigates, 3 corvettes, 33 submarines, 230 patrol craft, and 10 mine warfare vessels. In numbers, this is, at least, far stronger than Israel.
As for nuclear weapons, we will use a quote we have used before regarding Israel, written in 2017 in National Interest. It says about all you need to know. “Israel does not confirm nor deny having nuclear weapons. Experts generally assess the country as currently having approximately eighty nuclear weapons.”
What about Iran? Well, that’s the million-dollar question. CNN wrote this in 2018, “Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon but does have enough low-enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon.” Then we had a report on June 4th in the British tabloid, The Sun, that stated Israel intelligence agency Mossad had discovered documents in a warehouse in Tehran that suggested Iran was on its way to making nuclear weapons. Depending on what news source you read, Iran has them already, will have them soon, or has some good-to-go, but in North Korea. The truth is out there, but we won’t say we know what it is.
So, who wins? Well, we have to give the edge to Iran. It’s just a bigger military in the end. We are not alone; other pundits it seems also give Iran the edge, stating that the country falls just outside of the top ten most powerful militaries in the world.
So, what do you think? Does Iran actually have the edge, or could Israel blow iran out of the proverbial water? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Israel vs the USA! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!