We have compiled data from militaries around the world to find out who the current top
10 most powerful are.
Our list takes into account different factors, including each nation’s potential war-making
capability across land, sea and air, as well as its resources and finances.
The Italian military has become more robust in recent decades.
This is in part due to the country's possession of two active aircraft carriers, which places
Italy fourth in the world in terms of aircraft carrier rankings and allows them to operate
in any part of the world.
Elsewhere in the sea, Italy has six submarines, 13 frigates, 5 corvettes and 4 destroyers,
making it the 9th largest navy in the world.
They posses the Bergamini class ‘FREMM’ multipurpose frigate, built for anti-submarine
and anti-aircraft defense.
Only three other countries possess these types of warcraft.
Since the second world war, the Italian armed forces have become more and more engaged in
international United Nations peace support operations in many countries around the world,
including Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The modern German armed forces, or Bundeswehr [boon-des-vair], were created just ten years
after the end of World War II.
The Bundeswehr eventually grew to be a very well-equipped army, with a whole host of deadly
weapons in its possession, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, which has excellent maneuverability,
powerful engines, infra-red search and sidewinder missiles.
Germany’s navy is quite small by comparison, with no aircraft carriers and just five submarines.
However, in March 2015, the Merkel government announced a 6.2% increase in the defense budget
for the German military over the next five years, which provides for an additional $8.5
billion to its current budget of $33 billion by 2019.
Turkey’s large manpower reserve with 410,500 active troops and 185,630 reserve troops gives
it a powerful advantage on land.
It also lays claim to an impressively large tank fleet - with 3,778 - as well as numerous
aircraft and attack helicopters.
Turkey's military also uses cutting-edge equipment, including some brought in from the US like
the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, which is capable of hitting targets 160 kilometers
The Turkish army has 100 of them.
The Turks also operate three US-made MQ-1 Predator drones, placing them just behind
the US with the second highest number of these drones.
When equipped with Hellfire missiles, MQ-1 Predators can pick out targets on the ground
from 400 kilometers away.
In absolute terms, the Japanese military is actually relatively small, with just 250,000
frontline personnel and 57,900 active reserve personnel.
But despite this, the country is still extremely well equipped.
It currently has 1,595 aircraft, making it the world's fifth largest air force.
Included in this is the Type 3 Chū-SAM surface-to-air missile, which has a range of around 50 kilometers
and an ability to engage with targets flying at an altitude of over 10 kilometers.
Alongside this, Japan has the fourth largest submarine fleet in this list and three aircraft
carriers, although these vessels are only equipped with helicopter fleets.
In January 2016 Japan launched its first military satellite into space.
It marked one of three planned satellites that will quadruple broadband capacity, unify
an overburdened communications network, and allow communications across a wider range
Later in 2016 Japan deployed their troops for the first time since WWII to South Sudan
as part of UN peacekeeping missions.
THE UNITED KINGDOM
Despite the fact that the UK is planning to reduce the size of its armed forces by 20%
- from 102,000 to 82,000 between 2010 and 2018 - it is still very capable of projecting
its power around the world.
According to Professor Malcolm Chalmers, director of UK Defence Policy Studies at the renowned
Royal United Services Institute, Britain could still hold an advantage over emerging powers
like China, due to its superior training and equipment.
This includes Britain’s special forces unit, the SAS, which former US military leader General
David Petraeus [pa-tray-us] claims is the best special forces unit in the world and
one that many other countries use as a template for their own.
In terms of cyber warfare, Britain has GCHQ, an intelligence and security organization
famed for its role in the breaking of German enigma codes during World War II.
In the sea, The Royal Navy is planning to put the HMS Queen Elizabeth through trials
in the summer of 2017, with the aim of putting it into service in 2020.
This aircraft carrier can carry 40 F-35B joint strike fighters across the globe.
In terms of ground force troops, the UK and French militaries look quite similar at first,
with France leading by a difference of 50,000 because it has 205,000 active frontline personnel.
But the real disparity is in fixed wing aircraft and fleet strength.
In total, France has 1,282 aircraft to the UK’s 879.
This includes 140 of the multirole fighter aircraft ‘The Dassault Rafale’ [da-so
ra-fal], capable of carrying ASMP-A medium-range nuclear cruise missiles.
As mentioned previously, the UK does not yet have an active aircraft carrier, whereas France
has the Charles de Gaulle, which is the only nuclear-powered carrier outside of the United
In 2015 Charles de Gaulle was deployed twice to fight the Islamic State.
France is also looking to expand its cyber warfare capabilities.
In January 2017 Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian [jon with a soft ‘j’ – eve
le dree-on] said that the French military would host 2,600 "digital soldiers by 2019,
with the support of an additional 600 cyber experts”.
In 2014 Britain’s ministry of defense projected a global scenario, which stated that by 2045
India could become a global military power with the third largest defense expenditure
- pegged at 654 billion US dollars.
As of 2015 India is the world's largest importer of military goods.
It has ballistic missiles with a range capable of hitting all of Pakistan and most of China,
and it has around 90-110 nuclear warheads.
It also has two aircraft carriers, while Russia and China only have one each.
In August 2016, India commissioned its first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine,
the INS Arihant, which has 12 K-15 missiles with a range of 750 km.
Now armed with a nuclear triad, India’s armed forces are steadily undergoing modernization,
investing in areas such as futuristic soldier systems and missile defense systems.
In the past few decades, the Chinese military has grown rapidly in terms of size and capability.
With a population of 1.3 billion to draw from, China has over 2.3 million active personnel,
with an additional 1.1 million as reserves and military police.
So in terms of manpower, China has the biggest military in the world, but it is plagued by
It still largely relies on trains for transportation across the mainland, as it has very few transport
As it stands in 2017, China has had unprecedented success with cyber warfare.
In 2015 the US Office of Personnel Management announced that it had been the target of a
data breach by the Chinese government who had targeted the records of as many as 21.5
China also has innovating anti-space capabilities, although the US trumps it in terms of military
action involving lethal force.
When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, the Russian army underwent a dramatic facelift.
17 years on, it’s bigger, stronger, and better equipped than at any time since the
end of the Cold War.
It has the world's largest tank fleet - with a staggering 15,400 tanks - and the second
largest aircraft fleet, with 3,547 aircraft.
The most popular of these is the USSR-made Sukhoi Su-27, which can carry up to eight
The world got a glimpse of Putin’s new army in 2014, when “little green men” with
gleaming new uniforms and weapons annexed Crimea in a relatively bloodless but extremely
efficient operation, which lasted just 24 days.
However, Russia still lags far behind the United States in total power in terms of technology,
with much of its vast arsenal still made up of aging Soviet-designed equipment.
As of 2017 the land of the free has one of the largest militaries in the world, with
1,400,000 active personnel and 1,100,000 reserve personnel.
Alongside its active ground force army, it is the world leader in aircraft production,
with a total fleet of 19 aircraft carriers - that’s more than every other country on
this list combined - which hold around 80 fighter jets each.
But how can the US afford this?
Well, it spends a whopping $600 billion annually to fund its military forces and Overseas Contingency
The US also implements cutting-edge technology like the Navy’s new railgun, which can fire
a projectile at around Mach 6 and has the potential to hit a target over 160 kilometers
If that isn’t threatening enough, the US has 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries.
So there you have 10 of the most powerful militaries in the world.
Were there any you were surprised by?
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