As we saw earlier this year in our episode ‘The Top 10 Most Powerful Militaries,’ the USA is regarded as having the strongest, most advanced, and undoubtedly best funded military in the entire world. This powerhouse of a military is buttressed with arguably superior computer technology to any other country, while America’s nuclear capabilities, along with Russia, are above and beyond any other nation. Some of you may have been surprised to find India in fourth place on that list, a country perhaps not renowned for its military strength, but in recent years, it has experienced vast modernization. India is also the world’s second most populated country, and in terms of boots on the ground, has the third largest military personnel, not to mention more military volunteers to call upon than any other country in the world. So, how do these two countries compare in matters of military prowess? That’s what we will find out in this episode of The Infographics Show, U.S.A vs. India.
Let’s start by looking at the behemoth that is the United States military. The U.S. has a population of just over 325 million people, 1.3 million of whom are active military personnel. The country has another 811,000 reserve personnel. Where the USA far exceeds any other nation is in regard to its gigantic defense budget. From its 18 trillion-plus GDP, the USA spends around 611 billion dollars on its military, which is about 3.3 percent of its GDP. In terms of spending, this is around three times more than China – the next biggest military spender – spends on its defense. It was reported this year that the new US administration has proposed to increase the military budget by a further 54 billion dollars.
India has a population of about 1.3 billion (1.311 billion) people, 1.4 million of whom are active military personnel. A massive 1,155,000 people are serving as reserve personnel. In terms of sheers numbers, India is in front of the U.S., but in terms of budgets, it is leagues behind. From India’s $9.489 trillion GDP – the third biggest GDP in the world – around 55.9 billion dollars is spent on its military. It’s projected that by 2020, that number will be something like 64 billion as India pushes towards further modernizing its military.
In terms of ground artillery, the U.S. has around 5,884 tanks, 41,000 armored fighting vehicles, 1,934 self-propelled guns, 1,299 towed artillery, and 1,331 multiple-launch rocket systems. Here, India’s numbers are far lower, with the country owning 4,426 tanks, 6,704 armored fighting vehicles, 290 self-propelled guns, 7,414 towed artillery and 292 multiple-launch rocket systems.
India’s land equipment is said to have been in dire need of an upgrade for some time, and this is why large investments are on the way. India is in the process of developing and inducting a fleet of Arjun MK-II third-generation battle tanks, while under the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan. 3 billion dollars will be spent on 3,000 to 4,000 pieces of new artillery.
The USA largely relies on its third-generation battle tank, the M1 Abrams, a machine that has proved itself in battle many times and often appears somewhere at the top of lists of the world’s best tanks. The newest iteration of this tank, the M1A2 SEP v4, will begin testing in 2021. Overall, in spite of India’s attempts to modernize its military land vehicles, the USA is firmly ahead in this arena.
In terms of military aircraft, the USA is almost spoiled for choice. From its 13,444 aircrafts, the U.S. has some of the world’s most impressive aerial fighting machines. This includes 195 F-22A Raptors, 957 F-16 Fighting Falcons, 257 F-15E Strike Eagles, and 71 F-35A Lightning IIs. The F-35 is said to be perhaps the most advanced military aircraft ever to be invented, although it’s also come under scrutiny for costing too much and also suffering the occasional developmental setback. It was once said the expense is so much, the F-35 is too big to fail.
India’s air force is no slouch, however, and is said to be the fourth largest in the world in terms of personnel and aircraft. From its 1,720 aircraft, about 900 are combat capable. Its fleet consists of Russian built Sukhoi Su-30MKIs and Mikoyan MiG-29s, as well as the highly-rated French-built multi-role fighter, the Dassault Mirage 2000.
Both navies are also ranked in the top ten of the world’s strongest navies, although the U.S. is largely seen as being way out in front in the number one spot.
The giant U.S. navy consists 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.
The Indian navy has just one aircraft carrier, 0 cruisers, 11 destroyers, 14 frigates, 15 submarines, 23 corvettes, 0 amphibious assault ships, 7 mine warfare ships, and 72 patrol ships.
As for nuclear capabilities, the USA and India are two of nine countries in the world that have nuclear weapons. The difference is that from almost 15,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, the U.S. owns almost half of them, Russia the other half, and seven other countries make up the rest with relatively small nuclear arsenals. One of those countries is India, with around 120 nuclear warheads. None of these are deployed, however, while America has an estimated 1,800 deployed nuclear weapons.
Something else to take into account is the oil needed to power a military. The USA produces around 8.6 million barrels of oil per day, while consuming around 19 million barrels daily. It has around 36 and a half billion barrels of proven oil reserves. India produces 767,000 barrels of oil a day, consumes 3.5 million barrels daily, and has around 5 and a half billion barrels in reserve.
While India has almost certainly become a superpower regarding its military, its fast modernization could be no match for the experience of the United States, a country whose military is constantly being tested. India’s military in recent times has been involved in mostly small conflicts and peacekeeping missions, while the same cannot be said about the U.S. military. Since 1776, the United States has been involved in a total of 103 wars, which makes its armed forces more experienced than any other modern military.
We must also look towards the future, a technological future which is to some extent driven by American innovation. Here we should take into account cyber-warfare, advanced spying methods, the hacking of not just military databases but connected machines or missiles, drone capabilities, machine learning algorithms used to understand vast amounts of data, automation software used for military purposes, and even the possibility of soldiers being replaced by artificially intelligent machines. As we speak, the military is undergoing huge transformations, with computer technology leading that transformation. Only recently the Pentagon decided to start using machine-learning algorithms to assist military personnel to go over 1000s of hours of drone footage from the Middle East. The USA is arguably the world’s leader in this respect, although India is also a powerhouse of computer technology. The city of Bangalore in India is sometimes referred to as the ‘second Silicon Valley,’ so it would be unwise not to respect India’s IT acumen.
We might also think about what’s been called the Pentagon’s ‘Terminator Conundrum,’ a future in which the machines we created have become so powerful in terms of cognizance that they decide to wipe out the human race. In that case one day we could find ourselves all on the same side!
So, what are your thoughts on this match-up? Does the mighty USA military have weaknesses? Does India have tricks up its sleeve that we haven’t mentioned? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments. And if you like these kinds of military comparisons, be sure to check out our Military Comparisons playlist. Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you soon!