Are we currently on the brink of seeing a shift towards new global superpowers? If we look at the power wielded by any nation right now, the United States could be said to be in a globally dominant position.
Before it, Great Britain and its empire was the dominant global force, and prior to that there is a long line of countries that have at one time sat at the apex of the global economy, culture, science, and military strength.
Great nations may also decline, a concept known as declinism, while simultaneously other nations are busy evolving into powerful states.
BRICS is an acronym standing for the five countries it represents: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The acronym at first was just BRIC, until South Africa made an appeaance in the association in 2010. BRIC was formally started in 2006 when the first BRIC meeting was held, under the aegis of a mutual agreement to boost each member country’s development. Not only developments relating to economy, business and trade, but also education, agriculture, health, technology, science and the arts.
What is the economy of BRICS like?
Together BRICS is a powerful conglomerate, accounting for 42.58 percent of the world’s population and according to the International Monetary Fund, about 22 percent of the world GDP. Compared to the United States, in terms of size alone, it’s Goliath staring down at David. If we look at the numbers, BRICS has a combined population of about 3.6 billion people. The USA has a population of just 325 million people. The U.S. GDP is the biggest in the world at 18 trillion-plus dollars, although BRICS combined has a GDP of 37 trillion dollars. The U.S. is not expected to make any headway on BRICS any time soon regarding economic growth, with its estimated growth to be around 2 percent over the next few years. BRICS is expected to see growth of around 5 percent. In an article in the Atlantic published in 2012, Goldman Sachs projected that China’s GDP alone would be equal to America’s by 2027, and then leap past it. In regard to economy, BRICS nations are ascending quickly. This growth, it’s believed, will lead to much stronger militaries, especially those of China and India.
How much do BRICS countries spend on military?
Right now, the U.S. spends more on its military than any other nation, with a defense budget of 639 billion dollars for 2018. It’s such a large budget, that even 5 emerging nations’ defense budgets together don’t exceed it. According to the Global Firepower index, Brazil’s military budget is currently 24.5 billion dollars, Russia’s is 44.6 billion, India’s is 51 billion, China’s is 161.7 billion and South Africa’s is 4.6 billion. Combined, BRICS countries have a defense budget of 286.4 billion dollars. This is even more astonishing when you consider that China and India are both in the top countries for highest military expenditures.
How much manpower do BRICS countries have?
In terms of feet on the ground, you probably already know the U.S. is severely outmanned. The U.S. has 1.3 million active military personnel, and a further 811,000 acting as reserve personnel. China alone has 4.6 million total personnel, India 3.4 million, Russia 3.2 million, Brazil 2.1 million, and South Africa 106,000. In total, that is almost 13.5 million people ready to fight.
How strong are BRICS ground units?
Workforce aside, the USA still spends more than all these other countries. So where does the money go? In terms of land equipment, the USA 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. Most of this equipment is the latest in military innovations, with the U.S. continually developing more advanced war machines such as its latest battle tank, the M1A2 SEP v4.
Russia and China, the two strongest of the BRICS militaries, alone make a formidable force on the ground. If the two nations were to form a military duo, they’d have over 24,000 main battles tanks, over 35,000 armored fighting vehicles, almost 8,000 self-propelled guns, over 12,000 towed artillery and over 5,000 multiple launch rocket systems. As well as having strong fleets of tanks, the two countries are currently developing two new tanks that are rated as highly as the new M1A2, in China’s VT-4 and Russia’s T-14 Armata.
India also has some modern land equipment, and is currently investing billions of its new money into thousands of pieces of new artillery. This will include a fleet of Arjun MK-II third-generation battle tanks. Brazil has modern weapons, much of which was bought from the USA, the world’s biggest arms exporter. It’s most extolled land weapon is its almost 400-strong fleet of German-made Leopard 1 tanks that it acquired in 2006.
How strong is BRICS air force?
If the USA can’t compete on the ground, it certainly can in the air. The United States air force is by far the most advanced in the world. The number of modern aircraft alone in the U.S. air force can match a number of leading nations put together. This can be credited to the U.S. air force having a bigger budget than any other nation’s entire military budget.
From its 13,444 aircrafts, the U.S. can choose from a number of some of the world’s most advanced machines. This includes almost a thousand F-16 Fighting Falcons, 195 F-22A Raptors, 257 F-15E Strike Eagles, a large fleet of McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornets and F/A-18E Super Hornets, as well as its new pride of the skies, a fleet of F-35A Lightning IIs.
As we said, no air force comes close to this, but Russia, India and China have highly rated equipment and are often part of lists containing what is said to be the world’s best air forces. It’s worth noting that the latter two countries are investing heavily in aerial military developments. Russia’s most advanced aircraft is it’s highly rated Sukhoi Su-35, followed by its Sukhoi Su-27s and MiG-31 interceptors, all of which are part of a fleet of 3,000 aircraft. That’s why Russia usually follows the U.S. on the most powerful list.
India also has a considerable cache of aircraft, including Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKIs and Mikoyan MiG-29s, as well as the respected French-built multi-role fighter, the Dassault Mirage 2000. China is perhaps playing catch-up, but it’s doing a good job. Its fleet consists of Russia’s Su-35s and Su-27s but the country is also looking to match America’s F-35 with its own Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter. Brazil’s most modern aircraft, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighter, is another top ten aerial fighting machine. Currently the South African air force has nothing that compares to its BRICS partners.
How strong is BRICS navy?
As we take to the seas, again the United States spends as much on its navy – about 170 billion dollars – as other countries could only hope to spend on all military branches. Much of this money goes on infrastructure, operations and maintenance, personnel, research and development, as well as acquiring new ships. The USA currently leads the world in terms of aircraft carriers, owning 11 of them.
It’s currently developing the Gerald R. Ford class super-carrier, which should help bolster the navy’s position as a global leader. These ships are of great importance as they are in effect floating militaries. The U.S. also has 22 cruisers, 67 destroyers, 8 frigates, 75 submarines, 0 corvettes, 9 amphibious assault ships, 11 mine warfare ships and 55 patrol ships.
According to National Interest, the USA and the UK will be followed by three countries as the most powerful navies in the near future. You guessed it, those countries are China, India and Russia. While Russia is to be expected, both India and China have been pouring money into their respective navies.
Pundits believe that by 2030, India will have the second largest navy in the world, and will also have its own supercarrier. It currently has 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. China is on track to have the largest fleet come 2030, and is close to finishing its secret supercarrier, the CV-18. Russia’s greatest threat is its large fleet of 60 submarines, some carrying devastating ballistic missiles. Again, both Brazil and South Africa are not regarded as having strong navies in terms of global power, but together the former triumvirate of BRICS navies would be dominant if they were all on the same side.
What about nuclear capabilities?
The U.S. and Russia own around half of all the nuclear weapons in the world, with China’s small arsenal of around 260 non-deployed weapons being a matter of speculation in terms of numbers. India is said to have around 120 warheads, and is believed to be working on increasing its nuclear arsenal. Brazil and South Africa have no nuclear weapons.
So, do you think the US would stand a chance against BRICS, or would it be a total wipeout? Let us know in the comments!