“We have the greatest military in the world!” is a refrain heard throughout many countries all over the world, from China to North Korea, Israel to Japan. Some of these countries even organize parades to showcase their military might in an attempt to convince themselves and others of their great power. But who are really the top 10 most powerful militaries and what makes them as strong as they are? We thought it would be fun to do a research-based comparison of the strongest militaries in the world and to present you with just the facts in this episode of The Infographics Show, Top 10 most powerful militaries in 2017.
Number 10: Italy
Italy is a boot shaped country in Europe, located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of 60 million people. Its annual defense budget is $34 billion, which 1.8% of its GDP. They have a total of 320,000 active frontline personnel and 42,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. The country’s Land Systems contain 586 tanks, 6,972 AFVs, 164 SPGs, 92 Towed-Artillery, and 21 MLRSs. Italy’s Air Force consists of 785 total aircrafts, the most popular being the Eurofighter Typhoon. Its Navy has 2 Aircraft Carriers, 13 Frigates, 4 Destroyers, 5 Corvettes, 6 Submarines, and 10 Coastal Defense Crafts. Despite its impressive naval capabilities, Italy’s land-based military is somewhat lacking, which is a big part of why they fall at the bottom of this list.
Number 9: Germany
Germany is a country located in Central Western Europe, with a population of 81 million people. Its annual defense budget is $36 billion, which is $2 billion more than Italy, but only 1% of its GDP, one of the lowest on this list. They have a total of 180,000 active frontline personnel and 145,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. Germany has 408 Tanks, 5,869 AFVs, 154 SPGs, and 50 MLRSs in its military, along with 676 aircrafts, the most popular also being the Eurofighter Typhoon. Its Navy is quite small by comparison, with no aircraft carriers and only 5 submarines. It does, however, have 10 Frigates, 5 Corvettes, and 4 Coastal Defense Crafts. Unlike Italy, Germany seems to have focused more on its land based military, but the imbalance of army and navy is what puts it close to the bottom of this list.
Number 8: Turkey
Turkey is a transcontinental country that falls between Anatolia in Western Asia and the Balkan Peninsula in Southern Europe, with a population of 75 million people. Its annual defense budget is just over $18 billion, which is 2.4% of its GDP. They have a total of 410,500 active frontline personnel and 185,630 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. The country lays claim to an impressively large fleet of 3,778 tanks, as well as 1,007 aircraft and attack helicopters, the most popular being the U.S. made Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. They also have access to 7,550 AFVs, 1,013 Self-Propelled Guns, 697 Towed-Artillery, and 811 MLRSs. Their Navy consists of 16 Frigates, 8 Corvettes, and 29 Coastal Defense Crafts. Although they lack an aircraft carrier, they do boast a total of 13 submarines; only five other countries in the world beat them in that department.
Number 7: Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia, located in the Pacific Ocean, with a population of 126 million people. Its annual defense budget is $40.3 billion, which is 0.9% of its GDP. In absolute terms, the Japanese military is relatively small, with a total of 250,000 active frontline personnel and 57,900 active reserve personnel. Nonetheless, the country is extremely well equipped. Its land based systems consist of 678 Tanks, 2,850 AFVs, 202 SPGs, 500 Towed-Artillery, and 99 MLRSs, as well as a whopping 1,590 aircrafts, the most popular of which is the Japanese made Mitsubishi F-15J. Their Naval forces are light in some areas, which is odd considering they are a group of islands. They have 3 Aircraft Carriers, 43 Destroyers, and 6 Coastal Defense Crafts. Although they have no Frigates or Corvettes, they do have the fourth largest submarine fleet in this list, with a total of 17 submarines.
Number 6: The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is an island nation in Northwestern Europe with a population of 65 million people (243,610 square km). It has an annual defense budget of $55 billion, which is 2% of its GDP and the third highest defense budget on this list. They have a total of 150,000 active frontline personnel and 182,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. The UK has 407 Tanks, 5,948 AFVs, 89 SPGs, 138 Towed-Artillery, and 42 MLRSs. It’s air force has a combined total of 879 aircrafts, with the Eurofighter Typhoon being their most popular. Their Navy consists of 1 Aircraft Carrier, 13 Frigates, 6 Destroyers, 10 Submarines, and 18 Coastal Defense Crafts. .They are also the first on this list to have nuclear weapons, with a total of 215 warheads. For some time now, the UK’s armed forces has relied on its connection to the EU. It remains to be seen whether its recent Brexit from Europe will grow or weaken its military.
Number 5: France
France is a Western European country located betwixt the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of 65 million people. Its annual defense budget is $35 billion, which is 1.4% of its GDP. They have a total of 205,000 active frontline personnel and 195,770 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. France’s military has a total of 423 Tanks, 6,863 AFVs, 325 SPGs, 233 Towed-Artillery, and 44 MLRSs. Their Air force contains 1,282 total aircrafts, with the French-made Dassault Rafale B/C being their most popular. Their Navy has 11 Frigates, 11 Destroyers, 10 Submarines, and 20 Coastal Defense Crafts. They also have 4 aircraft carriers, which is the second largest number of aircraft carriers in the world. France beats the UK in total number of nuclear warheads, with 300 Nuclear weapons to their name.
Number 4: India
Located in South Asia, India is the 2nd most populated country in the world with a population of 1.34 billion people. It has a defense budget of $40 billion, which is 1.8% of its GDP. They have a total of 1,325,000 active frontline personnel and 2,143,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. Their military is comprised of 6,464 tanks, 6,704 AFVs, 290 SPGs, 7,414 Towed-Artillery, and 292 MLRSs. Their air force contains 2,086 aircrafts with the Russian made Sukhoi Su-30MKI being their most popular. Their navy is also quite large, with 2 aircraft carriers, 14 Frigates, 10 Destroyers, 26 Corvettes, 14 Submarines, and 135 Coastal Defense Crafts. On top of all this, India has a nuclear stockpile of between 90 and 110 warheads. Although this number is smaller than all the other nuclear countries on this list, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.
Number 3: China
Located in East Asia, China is the most populated country in the world with a population of 1.38 billion people. It has a defense budget of $147 billion, which is 2.1% of its GDP. They have a total of 2,335,000 active frontline personnel and 2,300,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. They have the world’s second largest tank fleet with 9,150 tanks, as well as 4,788 AFVs, 1,710 SPGs, 6,246 Towed-Artillery, and 177 MLRSs. Their air force contains 2,942 aircrafts with the Chinese made Chengdu J-7 being their most popular. They also have the second largest submarine fleet with 68 submarines, as well as 1 aircraft carrier, 48 Frigates, 32 Destroyers, 26 Corvettes, and 138 Coastal Defense Crafts. They have a sizable nuclear arsenal with a total of 260 nuclear warheads, rivaling the UK’s stockpile.
Number 2: Russia
A huge country in Eurasia, Russia has a total population of 143 million people. It has a defense budget of $47 billion, which is 3.9% of its GDP. They have a total of 766,000 active frontline personnel and 2.5 million active reserve personnel in their armed forces. Their land base forces consist of 31,300 AFVs, 5,972 SPGs, 4,625 Towed-Artillery, and 3,793 MLRSs. Russia is known for having the world’s largest tank fleet with a staggering 15,400 tanks, as well as the second largest aircraft fleet with 3,547 aircrafts, the most popular being the USSR made Sukhoi Su-27. They have the third biggest submarine fleet with 60 subs, along with 1 aircraft carrier, 4 frigates, 15 destroyers, 81 corvettes, and 14 coastal defense craft. Finally, Russia’s Nuclear program is phenomenally large with 7,000 warheads, the most of any country.
Number 1: The United States of America
The U.S.A, located in North America between Canada and Mexico, has a total population of 321 million people. It is often referred to as the most powerful country in the world, and its military certainly reflects that. America has a monumental $664 billion defense budget, which is 2.4% of its GDP, and about 14 times what Russia spends. They have a total of 1,400,000 active frontline personnel and 1,100,000 active reserve personnel in their armed forces. The US has a massive fleet of 8,848 tanks, 41,000 AFVs, 1,934 SPGs, 1,300 Towed-Artillery, and 1,331 MLRSs. In terms of its air force, the U.S. has a total of 13,444 aircrafts, with its most popular being the American made F-16 Fighting Falcon. But it is their naval force which is by far the most impressive of any country on this list: It consists of 19 aircraft carriers, which is 18 more than Russia, the 2nd most powerful military on Earth. It also has 6 Frigates, 62 Destroyers, 13 Coastal Defense Craft, and 75 Submarines, making their submarine fleet the largest in the world. As for Nuclear weapons, they are miles ahead of most (though not too far behind Russia) with 6,800 nuclear warheads.
Though it seems obvious that the US has the strongest military in the world, many would argue that there are other things to consider other than the raw numbers. Who do you think has the strongest military on Earth? Please share your thoughts in the comments.