Revealed: The most powerful militaries in 2017

most powerful militaries
Photo: U.S. Air Force

Most Powerful Militaries in the World

An annual ranking that assesses nations’ armed forces has revealed the most powerful militaries in the World.

The ranking is based on data collected from the Global Firepower Index (GFI) and Credit Suisse.

Both studies focused on the number of available manpower, active aircraft carriers, naval power, land systems, resources, logistics, finances and geography covered.

Analysts also focused on weapon diversity (i.e. fielding 100 minesweepers does not equal the strategic and tactical value of fielding 10 aircraft carriers).

Among the findings:

•  The United States has the best-equipped military on the planet.

•  Both Russia & China have been modernising their armed forces, and while their equipment still lags behind top-end American technology, experts say the gap is closing.

•  The French military is larger and arguably more capable than its traditional British rival.

•  Italy is stronger than Germany in every area, from aircraft and land forces to seapower.

Below are the 50 most powerful military nations, as of Jan. 1, 2017


1. United States

Possession of over 7000 nuclear weapons, 13000 weaponised aircraft and a spending of over $600 billion a year on defence makes the U.S. the world’s undisputed leader in terms of military strength.

Budget: $601 billion
Active Military Personnel: 1,477,896
Total Tanks: 8,848
Total Aircrafts: 15,293
Total Naval Strength: 290
Aircraft Carriers: 10


2. Russia

Russia comes in at second mostly because they possess the most number of tanks as well as nuclear warheads in the world. 15,000 tanks and 8,500 nuclear weapons to be specific.

Budget: $84.5 billion
Active Military Personnel: 766,055
Total Tanks: 15,398
Total Aircrafts: 4,498
Total Naval Strength: 352
Aircraft Carriers: 1


3. China

The Chinese economy is second only to the United States, and their military capabilities are growing at a shocking speed.

In terms of raw manpower, it’s the largest military in the world. It also has the second largest tank fleet behind Russia and the second largest submarine fleet behind the US.

Budget: $216 billion
Active Military Personnel: 2,335,000
Total Tanks: 9,150
Total Aircrafts: 5,048
Total Naval Strength: 714
Aircraft Carriers: 1


4. India

India has successfully emerged as a major military power in the last two decades and has recently overtaken China as the fastest growing major economy in the world.

While their equipment has lagged behind in the past, India now has access to nearly the entire universe of military technology. Russia, Europe, and the United States all sell their military hardware to India.

Budget: $50 billion
Active Military Personnel: 1,325,000
Total Tanks: 6,464
Total Aircrafts: 2,086
Total Naval Strength: 295
Aircraft Carriers: 2


5. France

The French have always been told by the British that they are weak but the reality is the modern French military is larger and more capable than Britain.

They are highly trained, professional, with power projection capabilities second only to the United States thanks to multiple bases around the globe.

Budget: $62.3 billion
Active Military Personnel: 205,000
Total Tanks: 423
Total Aircrafts: 1,282
Total Naval Strength: 118
Aircraft Carriers: 4


6. United Kingdom

The British military remains one of the most well funded and well trained forces in the world. Their manpower might be comparatively low, but the quality is high with very good equipment at their disposal.

Budget: $60.5 billion
Active frontline personnel: 146,980
Total Tanks: 407
Total Aircrafts: 879
Total Naval Strength: 76
Aircraft Carriers: 2


7. Italy

Italian forces have gotten much better in the last few decades thanks to interventions in foreign lands (Somalia, Yugoslavia) which gave Italy real combat experience.

Their military placed highly on the report due to the country’s possession of two active aircraft carriers. These carriers, in addition to the country’s relatively large submarine and attack helicopter fleets, drastically boosted Italy’s ranking.

Budget: $34 billion
Active Military Personnel: 320,000
Total Tanks: 586
Total Aircrafts: 785
Total Naval Strength: 179
Aircraft Carriers: 2


8. Germany

Germany is one of the strongest economic forces in the world but the army’s condition seems to have deteriorated in the past few years.

Germany does not have an aircraft carrier and has relatively few submarines which lowered it’s ranking.

Budget: $40.2 billion
Active Military Personnel: 180,000
Total Tanks: 408
Total Aircrafts: 676
Total Naval Strength: 81
Aircraft Carriers: 0


9. Japan

Even though Japan has officially denounced its right to declare war, it maintains a modern military that is extremely well equipped.

Japan could be a top-four military power if their constitution would allow them to also be an offensive force, not only defensive.

Budget: $41.6 billion
Active Military Personnel: 250,000
Total Tanks: 678
Total Aircrafts: 1,613
Total Naval Strength: 131
Aircraft Carriers: 3


10. Turkey

Turkey’s military is mighty in numbers – more than the militaries of France and the UK combined – but their equipment and training are not as top-notch, but respectable and fully compatible with NATO.

In addition, the country can lay claim to an impressively large tank fleet as well as numerous aircraft and attack helicopters.

Budget – $18.2 billion
Active Military Personnel – 425,500
Total Tanks – 3,778
Total Aircrafts – 1,007
Naval Strength – 194
Aircraft Carriers – 0


11. South Korea

12. Pakistan

13. Egypt

14. Taiwan

15. Israel

16. Brazil

17. Indonesia

18. Australia

19. Vietnam

20. Thailand

21. Poland

22. Canada

23. Iran

24. Saudi Arabia

25. North Korea

26. Algeria

27. Spain

28. Greece

29. Sweden

30. Ukraine

31. Mexico

32. Czech Republic

33. Myanmar

34. Malaysia

35. Argentina

36. Syria

37. Switzerland

38. Norway

39. Netherlands

40. Peru

41. Colombia

42. Ethiopia

43. Romania

44. Nigeria

45. Venezuela

46. South Africa

47. Chile

48. Uzbekistan

49. Belarus

50. Denmark

Source: Global Firepower, Credit Suisse