The world’s 10 strongest militaries
1) United States
Budget: $601 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 1,400,000
Total aircraft: 13,892
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.
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.
Budget: $84.5 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 766,055
Total aircraft: 3,429
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.
Budget: $216 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 2,333,000
Total aircraft: 2,860
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.
Budget: $41.6 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 247,173
Total aircraft: 1,613
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.
Budget: $50 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 1,325,000
Total aircraft: 1,905
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.
Budget: $62.3 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 202,761
Total aircraft: 1,264
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
Budget: $62.3 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 624,465
Total aircraft: 1,412
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.
Budget: $34 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 320,000
Total aircraft: 760
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.
Budget: $18.2 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 410,500
Total aircraft: 1,020
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
Budget: $60.5 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 146,980
Total aircraft: 936
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.
Budget: $15.7 billion
Active Frontline Personnel: 92,000
Total aircraft: 420
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.