It’s always fun to sit around and war-game which country could beat up which, and it’s even better when you have hard facts to back up your arguments.
Below is a summary of the top ten militaries in the world, according to Global Firepower, which tracks military power through publicly-available sources. We’ve scrapped Global Firepower naval comparisons since they track naval strength by number of ships, making a patrol boat equal to a supercarrier. This list of the largest navies by weight is being used instead.
Below the spreadsheet we’ve added a breakdown of each military's power:
Turkish army tanks take up position on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 6, 2015
An expanded military industry bodes well for Turkey’s military.
It has a large military-age population and tank force. It's upgrading its navy. And the Turkish preparations for war are becoming more urgent as ISIS stands at its doorstep.
Defense Budget: US $18.19 billion
Manpower fit for service: 35,005,326
Total Aircrafts: 989
Total Naval Strength: 115
The sixth-largest military spender, it has the fifth-largest air fleet and the fourth-largest navy. Still, a lackluster ground game drags it down and its constitution limits the military’s ability to project force worldwide.
Defense Budget: US $49.10 billion
Manpower fit for service: 43,930,753
Total Aircrafts: 1,595
Total Naval Strength: 131
Germany got a decent rank on Global Firepower and a great one at National Interest due to a strong economy, military spending, and good training.
However, news coming out of Germany suggests its position may be weaker than it appears on paper. It consumes much more oil than it produces, and its imports come from Russia, its most likely adversary. Germany’s ability to weather an oil shortage is also decreasing as it moves away from coal and nuclear power.
Also, it’s facing a major problem with its standard rifle.
Defense Budget: US $45.00 billion
Manpower fit for service: 29,538,413
Total Aircrafts: 710
Total Naval Strength: 82
7. South Korea
Though South Korea has the sixth-largest military by population, the sixth-largest fleet of aircraft in the world, and the eighth-largest navy, it has a relatively small budget and armored corps.
Its largest threat is North Korea which, despite having the largest navy by number of ships, is actually weaker than the numbers suggests due to antiquated equipment and undertrained personnel.
Defense Budget: US $33.70 billion
Manpower fit for service: 21,033,275
Total Aircrafts: 1,393
Total Naval Strength: 166
French soldiers of the 16th Hunter's Battalion secure the tarmac at Abeche airport in eastern Chad August 4, 2004 as the French military airlifts humanitarian aid. French troops are patrolling the area between the Sudanese border and refugee camps in eastern Chad and assisting aid organisations in distributing relief to people fleeing Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region.
France doesn’t post up the most impressive numbers of ships, planes, and tanks, but what equipment it has is modern and very capable.
Mirage and Rafale jets, Tiger helicopters, LeClerc main battle tanks, and the only nuclear-powered carrier outside the US fleet all provide the main muscle behind the French military.
France also manufacturers much of its own military supplies, meaning it has the ability to keep arming itself during a protracted war.
Defense Budget: US $43.00 billion
Manpower fit for service: 23,747,168
Total Aircrafts: 1,203
Total Naval Strength: 120
5. United Kingdom
Despite a small tank force, low number of aircraft, and a low number of military personnel, the United Kingdom maintains a spot in the top five with the world’s fifth -largest navy and fifth-highest military budget.
The British military is also aided by geography as it’s hard for an invading force to attack an island.
Defense Budget: US $53.60 billion
Manpower fit for service: 24,035,131
Total Aircrafts: 908
Total Naval Strength: 66
Indian Army soldiers followed by Bhishma tank, the locally assembled version of the T-90 S tank, and vehicle mounted Brahmos missiles participate in the Republic Day parade rehearsal in the backdrop of the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Jan. 23, 2009.
India’s ranking is largely due to its large labor force and large number of service members. It also has a sizable fleet of aircraft and tanks as wells as a respectable navy.
It suffers though due to a large amount of oil consumption relative to its small amount of oil production.
Interestingly, India’s Border Force is the only modern military force that maintains a camel-mounted regiment.
Defense Budget: US $46.00 billion
Manpower fit for service: 489,571,520
Total Aircrafts: 1,785
Total Naval Strength: 184
China has the second-largest military budget, third-largest fleet of aircraft, second-largest tank force, and the world’s largest number of military personnel.
China’s special forces also took 3 of the top 4 spots at the 2014 Warrior Games in Jordan. Though China technically has a draft, it is rarely used.
Defense Budget: US $126.00 billion
Manpower fit for service: 618,588,627
Total Aircrafts: 2,788
Total Naval Strength: 520
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Russian military vehicles including the new Russian T-14 Armata tank, center, make their way to Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade which will take place at Moscow's Red Square on May 9 to celebrate 70 years after the victory in WWII, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 4, 2015.
Its high ranking is fueled by superior armor numbers. Russia also fields a large navy and is one of the world’s largest oil producers. Russia ranks fourth for number of military personnel, but its numbers are padded by short-term conscripts.
Though it isn’t calculated by GFP, Russia’s special operations forces and propaganda arms have been proving themselves in Ukraine where Russia is a major destabilizing force.
Defense Budget: US $76.60 billion
Manpower fit for service: 46,812,553
Total Aircrafts: 3,082
Total Naval Strength: 352
1. United States of America
U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships steam in formation during their military manoeuvre exercise known as Keen Sword 15 in the sea south of Japan, in this November 19, 2014.
No real surprise here. The US spends $577 billion on defense per year, nearly four times more than China’s $145 billion budget. The US is behind both India and China on all measures of manpower but makes up for it with vastly superior airpower and a carrier fleet larger than anyother country’s entire navy.
Defense Budget: US $612.50 billion
Manpower fit for service: 120,022,084
Total Aircrafts: 13,683
Total Naval Strength: 473