While most idealists would rather have peace all over the globe at all times, the reality is a bit different than that and armed conflicts seem to always be happening in some place or another, which is why we wanted to take a look at the 11 armies with the most firepower in the world.
These are the militaries that not only have a lot of manpower or a high budget, but also those that have fighter jets, tanks, and missile launchers, submarines, an impressive naval fleet and attack helicopters, to name just a few.
These are the militaries of the world that can take care of problems both on their own grounds and in foreign theaters, depending on where they are needed, whether they’re there to protect their own countries from afar or to help out an ally in dire need.
Things have changed a lot over the past few decades, with technology advancing not only for us regular people but also for the military. Fighter jets were improved and taken to the next level, tanks have become invincible, missiles can fly across the globe to hit a target, and submarines can go undetected as they close in on the enemy. Heavy investments have been made by world governments to buy better gear for their soldiers, be it the latest guns or the top aircraft created by companies such as Boeing.
Most countries on our list, as you’ll see, are from Europe, Asia, and North America. There are, however, plenty of other nations with strong militaries. You can check out another list we published a while back, regarding the 11 African countries with the highest military strength.
Back to our list of the 11 armies with the most firepower in the world, however. We took a look Global Fire Power, a website that takes into account the forces of the world’s militaries. There’s a global ranking they created, taking into account all aspects, but there are also rankings regarding specific military aspects.
For instance, it’s important to know which countries have the most aircraft, or submarines, or tanks. Several aspects were disregarded, including the nuclear capability of these nations, as we concentrated on conventional firepower. On the other hand, the geographical factors influence all rankings, naval powers are penalized if their naval capabilities are limited, and the current economic health for all countries are taken into account.
Geography plays an important role in this ranking, as well as the current economic health. After taking a look at all aspects, each nation was given a Power Index score, which takes everything into consideration. The best score is, ironically, 0, but that’s not realistically obtainable.
Putting them all together helps give us a better look at which nation is at the top of the list of the 11 armies with the most firepower in the world.
Score – 0.4976
The Israeli army is quite impressive, but it still doesn’t manage to make the top ten. There are some 160,000 people on active duty and an extra 630,000 in reserve, although millions could be called to arms if needed.
The army has over 4,100 tanks at its disposal, as well as over 10,100 armored fighting vehicles. When it comes to flying, Israel has close to 700 aircraft, including 242 fighters. Its naval power isn’t all that high, but they do have 3 submarines and over 50 coastal defense crafts.
Israel’s defense budget was of $17 billion.
Score – 0.4339
Turkey has one of the strongest armies in the world. According to data, there are over 410,000 people on active duty, as well as over 185,000 on reserve, while millions more could be asked to join the forces if need be.
The army has over 3,700 tanks at its disposal, as well as over 7,550 armored fighting vehicles. There are over 1,020 aircraft available, including 223 fighters and interceptors. There are also 13 submarines and 16 frigates to name a few.
The Turkish defense budget was of over $18 billion.
Score – 0.3841
The Japanese army has over 247,000 people on active duty, and close to 58,000 in reserve. Impressively, Japan has close to 680 tanks and over 1,600 aircraft, including 289 fighters. The Japanese navy has 16 submarines, 43 destroyers and 6 coastal defense crafts, as well as 2 aircraft carriers.
The country’s defense budget was of over $41.6 billion.
Score – 0.3507
The German army has close to 180,000 people on active duty and an extra 145,000 on reserve. According to data amassed by Global Firepower, Germany has over 400 tanks and over 660 aircraft, including 105 fighters and interceptors, as well as 34 attack helicopters.
The country’s navy prides itself with 4 submarines and 5 corvettes, as well as 11 frigates. The country’s defense budget sits at an impressive $40.2 billion.
7. South Korea
Score – 0.3098
It may not seem like one of the countries to get on this list, but South Korea’s army has a great power index. The country has over 624,000 people on active duty and close to 3 million on reserve, a staggering number. Given their almost constant conflict with the North, they also have an impressive collection of vehicles to fight with.
For instance, they have close to 2,400 tanks and 2,660 armored fighting vehicles. They’re also in possession of over 1,400 aircraft, out of which 400 fighters and interceptors, 668 helicopters and 77 attack helicopters.
They also have 13 submarines, 81 coastal defense crafts and 12 destroyers. Their yearly defense budget stood at $33 billion.
Score – 0.3069
The French army has some 202,000 people in service, while another 195,000 could be called in if needed. When it comes to hardware, France has over 400 tanks, close to 7,000 armored fighting vehicles, as well as over 1,200 aircraft. Out of this number, 283 are fighter jets or interceptors and 46 are attack helicopters.
France also has 10 submarines and 21 frigates at its disposal, as well as 3 aircraft carriers. The country’s yearly defense budget was of $40 billion.
5. United Kingdom
Score – 0.2747
The British Armed Forces includes the Naval Service, which in turn covers the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force. It has a manpower of close to 147,000 active frontline personnel, with an additional 182,000 in reserve.
The British have Over 930 aircraft, out of which 89 are fighter jets and interceptors. The naval power includes about ten submarines, 13 frigates and 6 destroyers, as well as an aircraft carrier, which can come in quite handy.
Financially, the British defense budget is of over $51 billion.
Score – 0.2698
India has an impressive manpower, with over 1.3 million people on active duty and another 2.1 billion in reserve. Considering it has a population of over 1.2 billion people, it could call in hundreds of million more if needed.
The country also has over 6,400 tanks in its arsenal and over 6,700 armored fighting vehicles. There are also over 1,900 aircraft in its hangars, including 629 fighter jets and interceptors. India’s navy has 15 submarines, 25 corvettes and 15 frigates, as well as two aircraft carriers. The country’s defense budget was of $38 billion.
Score – 0.2318
China’s army is huge and when we say huge, we mean that it has over 2.3 million people on active duty and just as many on reserve. Furthermore, it has over 1.3 billion people in the country, which means it can call in a huge number of people if need be.
China has over 9,000 tanks and close to 4.800 armored fighting vehicles. There are also over 2,800 aircraft available, out of which over 1,000 are fighter jets. They’re also working on fifth generation fighter jets that would match those the US has had for a while now. The Chinese navy has 67 submarines at its disposal, 47 frigates and 25 destroyers.
The country’s defense budget stood at $145 billion this year.
Score – 0.1865
Second on our list of the 11 armies with most firepower in the world, Russia has over 765,000 people on active duty, as well as over 2.4 million on reserve. When it comes to land systems, Russia has close to 15,400 tanks, which is a huge number, as well as over 31,200 armored fighting vehicles. There are also over 3,400 aircraft in the fleet, out of which 769 are fighter jets and interceptors.
Russia’s navy also hosts a huge number of ships, including 55 submarines and 74 corvettes. The country dedicated $60.4 billion to its defense budget.
Score – 0.1663
At the top of our list is, unsurprisingly, the United States of America. The US Army has some 1.4 million people currently serving, while an additional 1.1 million have been put on reserve.
The military has over 8,800 tanks at its disposal and a whopping 41,000 armored fighting vehicles. There are close to 14,000 aircraft in its hangars, out of which 2,200 fighters and interceptors. Among these are also the only fifth generation fighter jets currently available, the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lighting II.
The US Navy prides itself with 72 submarines, 62 destroyers and 20 aircraft carriers. Of course, when it comes to budget, the USA doesn’t kid around and its latest defense budget stood at the extraordinary sum of $577 billion.
The US also has a missile defense system, carries on a heavy unmanned drone program and invests heavily in research and development in this important area, which gives it the top spot among the 11 armies with the most firepower in the world.