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Revealed: The Most Powerful Militaries In 2018

most powerful militaries
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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 modernizing 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.

The most powerful militaries in the world, as of Jan. 1, 2018:

1. United States

Possession of over 7000 nuclear weapons, 13000 weaponized aircraft and a spending of over $600 billion a year on defense makes the US the most powerful military in the world.

Budget: $601 billion
Active Military Personnel: 1,477,896
Total Tanks: 8,848
Total Aircraft: 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 Aircraft: 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.

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Budget: $216 billion
Active Military Personnel: 2,335,000
Total Tanks: 9,150
Total Aircraft: 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 Aircraft: 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.

In addition to being highly trained, the French have 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 Aircraft: 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 Aircraft: 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 Aircraft: 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 its ranking.

Budget: $40.2 billion
Active Military Personnel: 180,000
Total Tanks: 408
Total Aircraft: 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 Aircraft: 1,613
Total Naval Strength: 131
Aircraft Carriers: 3

10. Turkey

Turkey’s military is mighty in numbers – more than 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. Saudi Arabia

24. Algeria

25. Spain

26. Greece

27. Sweden

28. Ukraine

29. Mexico

30. Czech Republic

31. Myanmar

32. Malaysia

33. Argentina

34. Syria

35. Switzerland

36. Norway

37. Netherlands

38. Peru

39. Colombia

40. Ethiopia

41. Romania

42. Nigeria

43. Venezuela

44. South Africa

45. Chile

46. Uzbekistan

47. Belarus

48. Denmark

  • North Korea and Iran have been omitted from the list because experts remain unsure about their true military power.

Source: Global Firepower, Credit Suisse