The concept of ranking the strength of each country’s military might is hardly a novel one. The top ten countries based on military power in the world shifts over time, as do the reasons behind that power. The top ten most powerful countries in the world are ranked by many different sources and each of them have different reasons for their rankings.
1 – The United States.
2 – Russia.
3 – China.
4 – India.
5 – France.
6 – United Kingdom.
7 – Germany.
8 – Turkey.
9 – Japan.
10 – South Korea.
The United States.
United States Army
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
United States Air Force
United States Coast Guard
United States Space Force
In what shouldn’t be a surprise, the U.S. “retains its top spot as the undisputed military power in the world,” Global Firepower says.
America has more air units than any other country on Earth, with 2,085 fighters, 967 attack helicopters, 945 transports and 742 special mission aircraft.
The U.S. also leads the world with 39,253 armored vehicles, 91 Navy destroyers, and 20 aircraft carriers. It has an estimated 1,400,000 active personnel.
Washington has allocated $750 billion to the U.S. military budget in 2020.
Russia, whose military has become involved in Syria and Ukraine in recent years, has the most tanks of any country in the world: 12,950, more than double what the U.S. has, according to Global Firepower’s statistics.
Its estimated 1,013,628 active personnel, on land, are in charge of commanding 27,038 armored vehicles, 6,083 units of self-propelled artillery and 3,860 rocket projectors.
In the skies, Russia’s air force has 873 fighter aircraft and 531 attack helicopters. In water, they have 62 submarines and 48 mine warfare ships.
Russia is estimated to spend $48 billion on its military this year.
China, the most powerful country in Asia and a growing adversary to the U.S., ranks third on this list.
The communist superpower has an estimated active personnel of 2,183,000 – the largest in the world.
China has been building out its Navy in recent years while engaging in territorial disputes across the South China Sea. Today, they have 74 submarines, 52 frigates and 36 destroyers, Global Firepower says.
On land, China has 33,000 armored vehicles and 3,500 tanks. Their Air Force has amassed 1,232 fighter aircraft and 281 attack helicopters.
China is estimated to spend $237 billion on its armed forces in 2020.
India, which has been engaged in a prolonged territorial conflict with nearby Pakistan over the Kashmir region, has an estimated 1,444,000 people actively serving in its armed forces.
Global Firepower says the developing nation is amongst the world’s leaders in the number of tanks (4,292), towed artillery (4,060) and fighter aircraft (538).
India is estimated to spend $61 billion on its military this year.
The French Armed Forces (French: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air and Space Force and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as Chief of the Armed Forces.
France has the sixth largest defence budget in the world and the first in the European Union (EU). It has the largest armed forces in size in the European Union. According to Credit Suisse, the French Armed Forces are ranked as the world’s sixth-most powerful military.
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces along with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. As of 2021, the British Army comprises 82,040 regular full-time personnel, 3,960 Gurkhas, and 29,740 reserve personnel.
The modern British Army traces back to 1707, with antecedents in the English Army and Scots Army that were created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between England and Scotland.Members of the British Army swear allegiance to the monarch as their commander-in-chief, but the Bill of Rights of 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689 require parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a peacetime standing army. Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years. The army is administered by the Ministry of Defence and commanded by the Chief of the General Staff.
The British Army, composed primarily of cavalry and infantry, was originally one of two Regular Forces within the British military (those parts of the British Armed Forces tasked with land warfare, as opposed to the naval forces), with the other having been the Ordnance Military Corps (made up of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and the Royal Sappers and Miners) of the Board of Ordnance, which along with the originally civilian Commissariat Department, stores and supply departments, as well as barracks and other departments were absorbed into the British Army when the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855 (various other civilian departments of the board were absorbed into the War Office)
The British Army has seen action in major wars between the world’s great powers, including the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars. Britain’s victories in most of these decisive wars allowed it to influence world events and establish itself as one of the world’s leading military and economic powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the British Army has been deployed to a number of conflict zones, often as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.
A German army equipped, organized, and trained following a single doctrine and permanently unified under one command in 1871 during the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia. From 1871 to 1919, the title Deutsches Heer (German Army) was the official name of the German land forces. Following the German defeat in World War I and the end of the German Empire, the main army was dissolved. From 1921 to 1935 the name of the German land forces was the Reichsheer (Army of the Empire) and from 1935 to 1945 the name Heer was used. The Heer was one of two ground forces of the Third Reich during World War II but, unlike the Heer, the Waffen-SS was not a branch of the Wehrmacht but was a combat force under the Nazi Party’s own Schutzstaffel forces. The Heer was formally disbanded in August 1946.
After World War II, Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which both formed their own militaries: on 12 November 1955 the first recruits began their service in the West German Heer, while on 1 March 1956 the East German Landstreitkräfte der NVA (Land Forces of the National People’s Army) were founded. During the Cold War, the West German Army was fully integrated into NATO’s command structure while the Landstreitkräfte were part of the Warsaw Pact. Following the process of German reunification in 1990, the Landstreitkräfte were partially integrated into the German Army. Since then, the German Army has been employed in peacekeeping operations worldwide and since 2002 also in combat operations in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF; Turkish: Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri, TSK) are the military forces of the Republic of Turkey. Turkish Armed Forces consist of the General Staff, the Land Forces, the Naval Forces and the Air Forces. The current Chief of the General staff is General Yaşar Güler. The Chief of the General Staff is the Commander of the Armed Forces. In wartime, the Chief of the General Staff acts as the Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the President, who represents the Supreme Military Command of the TAF on behalf of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Coordinating the military relations of the TAF with other NATO member states and friendly states is the responsibility of the General Staff.
The history of the Turkish Armed Forces began with its formation after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish military perceived itself as the guardian of Kemalism, the official state ideology, especially of its emphasis on secularism. After becoming a member of NATO in 1952, Turkey initiated a comprehensive modernization program for its armed forces. The Turkish Army sent 14,936 troops to fight in the Korean War alongside South Korea and NATO. Towards the end of the 1980s, a second restructuring process was initiated. The Turkish Armed Forces participate in an EU Battlegroup under the control of the European Council, the Italian-Romanian-Turkish Battlegroup. The TAF also contributes operational staff to the Eurocorps multinational army corps initiative of the EU and NATO.
With an estimated active military personnel of 247,160, this Asian country only has a fraction of the headcount that volatile neighbor North Korea has, but makes up for it with its updated weaponry.
Japan has 152 special mission aircraft – more than any country in the world other than the U.S., according to Global Firepower’s statistics – and a formidable Navy fleet that contains 40 destroyers.
It also has 3,130 armored vehicles, 1,004 tanks and 119 attack helicopters.
The Republic of Korea Armed Forces (Korean: 대한민국 국군; Hanja: 大韓民國 國軍; RR: Daehanminguk Gukgun; lit. Republic of Korea National Military), also known as the ROK Armed Forces, are the armed forces of South Korea. The ROK Armed Forces is one of the largest and most powerful standing armed forces in the world with a reported personnel strength of 3,750,000 in 2020 (650,000 active and 3,100,000 reserve). As a result of its size and equipment, it is ranked the 6th most powerful military on the planet as of 2022.
The Republic of Korea Armed Forces traces its root back to the establishment of the Korean Republic in 1919 wherein its armed wing was called the Korean Liberation Army and it conducted warfare against the Japanese occupation by conducting large-scale offensives, assassinations, bombings, sabotage, and search and rescue missions. Formally founded in 1948, following the establishment of the Republic of Korea’s government after the liberation of Korea in 1945. South Korea’s military forces are responsible for maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state and also engage in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian and disaster relief efforts worldwide.