Top 10 Most Powerful Armies In The World

Determining how powerful an army is by calculating a nation’s power index. It is a multi-factor analysis that takes into account the size of the military, their finances and the level of technological advancement in the military industry. A final number is called the Global Fire Power Index, and it shows which 10 countries and their militaries are in the top ten.

10. Germany

Most Powerful Armies GermanyImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

Leopard 2 main battle tank.

At the back, we find Germany, which invests nearly $45 million each year in funding the military. Europe’s most powerful economy probably doesn’t spend as much as one might think. Reasons for this are that the general population is less sensitive to military activity after the events of World War II, where Germany has seen a steady decline in the number of people joining the military. In 2011, people were no longer required by law to serve in the military. In Germany, however, more than 180,000 people are still active in the army, in addition to 145,000 reservists. They have an air force of 710 units, and nearly 5,000 units involved in ground operations.

9. Turkey

Most Powerful Armies TurkeyImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

Turkish Marines board an MV-22 Osprey on the flight deck of the USS Kearsarge as they participate in the Turkish-led and organized amphibious exercise.

Currently, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a president with virtually unlimited powers, Turkey is a major investor in their military. Surrounded by various struggles in the Middle East, the Kurds, the Islamic State and the fighting in Syria, it comes as no surprise that Turkey has a budget of $18.8 billion to fund its military industry. They number 660,000 of both active and reserve troops with an air force numbering 1,000 units, while having 16,000 units available on the ground.

8. United Kingdom

United Kingdom's Most Powerful ArmiesImage source: Andrew Linnett | CC OGL v1.0

L85A2 assault rifle. An improved laser light module Mk 3, mounted on the SA-80 Mk2. The Laser Light Module (LLM Mk3) provides the infantry with greater range to mark and illuminate targets than existing equipment. A state-of-the-art laser light capable of illuminating targets up to 800 meters away will be provided to all infantry soldiers. Weighing only 244 grams, it fits the SA80 rifle for more accurate shooting in low light conditions.

With a budget of $54 billion currently being invested in the armed forces, the British military does not have that many active military personnel. The number of their regular armed forces is about 205,000, and the Royal Air Force has 908 available aircraft. The Royal Navy is also very small compared to other armies on this list, with only 66 ships in their fleet. However, the British military is very technologically advanced, and their main strength comes from the 160 warheads they have.

7. South Korea

South Korea's Mightiest ArmiesImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

K-1 88 main battle tank during an amphibious beach assault exercise.

Given its proximity to North Korea, another powerful military that possesses nuclear warheads, it seems reasonable for the country to invest about $34 billion in its defense. The number of available troops is more than 640,000 people, while a staggering 2,900,000 people are in reserve. They have some serious firepower in the air, with 1,393 aircraft. In addition, they have about 15,000 ground troops in their possession, along with 2,346 tanks.

6. Japan

Japan's Mightiest ArmiesImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

JS Kongō (DDG-173) fires a Standard Missile 3 anti-ballistic missile to intercept a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on December 17, 2007.

Since the peace treaty after World War II, Japan has been banned from having an army that will take offensive actions. However, with China’s influence on the entire Asian continent, Japan saw an increase in the budget going to the armed forces. With investments of $49 billion in a year, Japan has more than 247,000 active military personnel and an air force of 1,595 aircraft. Their naval power is also significant, with 131 warships at their disposal.

5. France

Most Powerful Armies FranceAfbeelding bron: 7th Army Training Command | CC BY 2.0 Generic

A French Leclerc tank in camouflage Central Europe in 2018.

As close neighbors of Germany, the French government also froze many investments for military purposes. Their budget is still $43 billion a year and below NATO’s proposed target. The number of soldiers is just over 220,000, with 500,000 reservists. They count 1,000 aircraft and 9,000 ground operating units. Here too, the ‘real’ strength lies in their nuclear energy, which is 290 nuclear warheads.

4. India

Most Powerful Armies IndiaImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

Indian T-72 armored tanks in Somalia, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission.

Given that India is currently the second most populous country in the world, with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants, it is not surprising that the country has an army of 1.325 million people, with more than 2 million reservists. With a budget of $55 billion, they own nearly 1,800 aircraft, 16,000 land vehicles, of which 3,500 are tanks. The official numbers on their warheads are inconsistent. Yet they are estimated to be in possession of nearly 200 ballistic missiles.

3. China

Most Powerful Armies in ChinaImage source: Alert5 | CC BY-SA 4.0 International

A Chengdu J-20 5th generation stealth fighter.

The most populous country in the world has 2.285 million active in the military and another 2.3 million in reserve. Together with 25,000 vehicles on land, China is the largest army in the world. All this is covered by a budget of 125 billion dollars, which includes a powerful air force of 2,800 aircraft and about 300 nuclear warheads. These numbers are most likely to increase significantly in the years ahead, as China is likely to see its military budget increase by another 12.2%.

2. Russia

Most Powerful Armies RussiaImage source: Maxim Maksimov | CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported

The Sukhoi PAK FA is one of the last procurement projects of the Russian armed forces.

Another country that is expected to increase its military budget by more than 40% in the coming years is Russia, the current leader when it comes to the number of nuclear warheads it holds close to 8,500. With a current budget of $76.6 billion, Russia finances more than 760,000 active and nearly 2.5 million reserve army. They also lead the way when it comes to the number of tanks they have, up to 15,500 heavily armed vehicles.

1. United States of America

United States of America's Most Powerful ArmiesImage source: Wikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0

US soldiers of the 6th Infantry Regiment take a position on a street corner during a foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq.

With a mind-blowing budget of $612.5 billion spent on military purposes, which is more than all of the previous 9 entries on this list combined, the United States has topped the Global Fire Power Index. The US has a large army of 1.4 million soldiers, with another 800,000 in reserve. They are the world leader when it comes to air power, with 13,398 aircraft, including 5,760 helicopters. They also own the largest fleet that can carry these aircraft, with 19 large ships. When it comes to the number of active warheads, they are very close behind Russia with 7,500 warheads.

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