The world’s 10 strongest militaries

The world's 10 strongest militaries
The world's 10 strongest militaries

1) United States

1) United States

The F-22 and F-35 flying together.USAF

Budget: $601 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 1,400,000
Tanks: 8,848
Total aircraft: 13,892
Submarines: 72

Despite sequestration and other spending cuts, the United States spends more money — $601 billion — on defense than the next nine countries on Credit Suisse’s index combined.

America’s biggest conventional military advantage is its fleet of 10 aircraft carriers. In comparison, India, which is constructing its third carrier, has the second-most carriers in the world.

The US also has by far the most aircraft of any country, cutting-edge technology like the Navy’s new railgun, a vast and well-trained human force — and that’s not even counting the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

2) Russia

2) Russia

Russian soldiers ride on military armored personnel carriers on the road near the Crimean port city of Sevastopol March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Budget: $84.5 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 766,055
Tanks: 15,398
Total aircraft: 3,429
Submarines: 55

The Russian armed forces are the unquestioned second strongest military power in the world. Russia has the world’s largest tank fleet, the second largest aircraft fleet behind the US, and the third largest submarine fleet behind the US and China.

The Kremlin’s military spending has increased by almost a third since 2008 and is expected to grow 44% more in the next three years. Russia has also demonstrated its ability to project force abroad with its deployment of soldiers to Syria.

3) China

3) China

A Chinese soldier takes part in a drill during a heavy snow in Heihe, Heilongjiang provinceREUTERS/CDIC

Budget: $216 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 2,333,000
Tanks: 9,150
Total aircraft: 2,860
Submarines: 67

The Chinese military has grown rapidly regarding both size and capability in the past few decades. Regarding raw human resources, 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.

China has also made rapid strides in its military modernization program, now developing a range of potentially game-changing military technologies including ballistic missiles and fifth-generation aircraft.

4) Japan

4) Japan

Japanese tanks and helicopters participate in a military training exercise.Yuya Shino/REUTERS

Budget: $41.6 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 247,173
Tanks: 678
Total aircraft: 1,613
Submarines: 16

In absolute terms, the Japanese military is relatively small. Nonetheless, the country is extremely well equipped.

According to Credit Suisse, it has the fourth largest submarine fleet in the list. Japan also has four aircraft carriers, although these vessels are only equipped with helicopter fleets.

Japan also has the fourth largest attack helicopter fleet behind China, Russia, and the US.

5) India

5) India

India’s Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel pose for pictures inside their base camp in New Delhi November 6, 2014. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Budget: $50 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 1,325,000
Tanks: 6,464
Total aircraft: 1,905
Submarines: 15

India is one of the largest military powers on the planet. It has the most active manpower of any country aside from China and the US, in addition to the most tanks and aircraft of any country besides the US, China, or Russia.

India also has access to nuclear weapons. It’s expected to become the fourth highest military spender on earth by 2020.

6) France

6) France

French soldiers patrol in the Terz valley, about 60 km (37 miles) south of the town of Tessalit in northern Mali March 20, 2013. France has deployed some 4,000 troops to Mali, alongside a regional African force, in a nine-week operation that has driven Islamists into desert hideaways and mountains near the Algerian border.Stringer ./REUTERS

Budget: $62.3 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 202,761
Tanks: 423
Total aircraft: 1,264
Submarines: 10

The French military is relatively small but highly trained, professional, and capable of force projection.

The country has the nearly new aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle, and France routinely engages in military deployments throughout Africa to help stabilize governments and fight against extremism.

7) South Korea

7) South Korea

Members of South Korea’s special forces participate in military training.Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg/US Marine Corps

Budget: $62.3 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 624,465
Tanks: 2,381
Total aircraft: 1,412
Submarines: 13

South Korea has been left with little choice but to have a vast and capable military in the face of potential North Korean aggression. With those realities in mind, South Korea has some submarines, attack helicopters, and active personnel.

The country also has many tanks and the sixth largest air force in the world.

8) Italy

8) Italy

An Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter patrols over the Baltics during a NATO air policing mission from Zokniai air base near Siauliai February 10, 2015.Ints Kalnins/REUTERS

Budget: $34 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 320,000
Tanks: 586
Total aircraft: 760
Submarines: 6

The Italian military placed highly on Credit Suisse’s 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.

10) Turkey

10) Turkey

Turkish army tanks take up position on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 6, 2014Umit Bektas/REUTERS

Budget: $18.2 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 410,500
Tanks: 3,778
Total aircraft: 1,020
Submarines: 13

Turkey’s armed forces are one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean. Although lacking an aircraft carrier, only five countries on Credit Suisse’s list have more submarines than Turkey.

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

Turkey is also a committed member of the F-35 program.

9) United Kingdom

9) United Kingdom

British Army Corporal Birendra Limbu of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, shows his rifle to Afghan children as he secures an area near an Afghan National Police (ANP) checkpoint outside the town of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, July 13, 2011. Shamil Zhumatov/REUTERS

Budget: $60.5 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 146,980
Tanks: 407
Total aircraft: 936
Submarines: 10

Although the UK is planning to reduce the size of its armed forces by 20% between 2010 and 2018, it can count on being able to project its power around the world.

The Royal Navy is planning to put the HMS Queen Elizabeth, an aircraft carrier that has a flight deck measuring at 4.5 acres, into service in 2020, carrying 40 F-35B joint strike fighters across the globe.


20) Canada

20) Canada

A Canadian soldier on patrol in Afghanistan.MCpl. Angela Abbey/Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Budget: $15.7 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 92,000
Tanks: 181
Total aircraft: 420
Submarines: 4

Canada ended up at the bottom of the list due to the country’s small number of active personnel, its lack of aircraft carriers and attack helicopters, and its limited number of tanks and submarines. However, Canada has still taken part in US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is a member of the NATO military alliance.

Canada is also a partner in the US F-35 program, although it may decline the purchase of F-35s depending upon the outcome of elections in October.