Powerful Militaries in the World – Global Firepower 2020

Powerful Militaries Ranking 2018

To be honest, it’s always feel proud to see your nation among powerful militaries in the world. Military means, having power to defend, to protect, and to save one’s territorial right.


Whom we call a military? Do you know the difference between a military and an army?

In general,

Military is the combination of three main branches: Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Soldiers having tanks – Army (ground force)

Soldiers having submarines – Navy (defender of the seas)

Soldiers having aircrafts – Air Force (flying falcons)

Army – ground force – is the oldest form of the military followed by navy and air force. Military is liable to protect the sovereign of a state, to guard its boarders, and to safeguard its people from all threads. It safeguard nation in every situation, whether it is natural disaster or war time.


From the dawn of civilization, clans and small towns used to have small army to protect their food stockpile from other clans. Even after thousands years, we (humans) still find ourselves and our assets unprotected. And that’s the reason we always need to have a powerful armed force.

Modern era begins with begins of technology boom – which changes the way of warfare, now it has been deadliest than ever.


Today, the total number of nuclear bombs are 9,920, despite we know that only 100 are enough for destruction on a catastrophic scale. Modern warfare no long remain a war with a losing side now it’s a war of complete destruction, where both side have to lose.

But, is your army is among powerful militaries?

Check out this list of 30 most powerful militaries in the world in 2018…

…based on 50 factors to determine strength of a military.


30) Ukraine

Ukrainian soldier with mask on face and gun on hands
By Sasha Maksymenko, via Flickr

Budget: $4.8 billion

Total personnel: 1,182,000

  • Active personnel: 182,000
  • Reserve personnel: 1,000,000
  • 2673% of total population

Total aircrafts: 238, Total tanks: 2,449, Total naval assets: 25

Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe sharing border with 7 other countries. Ukraine got its independence thrice in history, 2 times from German and once from Russia. Ever since, it has been in conflict with Russia. Ukraine maintains a very large army with more than 1 million personnel and quite pretty numbers with tanks as well. Even after getting independence from Russia, still it has its vast area under the control of Russian and Pro-Russian Federation. Most of the nation in this list of most powerful militaries are from Europe.

29) Sweden

Swedish soldier during drills, aiming at his target
By Tatum Vayavananda, Source: www.marines.mil

Budget: $6.2 billion

Total personnel: 43,875

  • Active personnel: 21,875
  • Reserve personnel: 22,000
  • 0.4440% of total population

Total aircrafts: 198, Total tanks: 120, Total naval assets: 63

Sweden is a country with thousands of islands, mountains, and forests. Sweden is an active member of NATO and valued contributor in Afghanistan war. Though it has few numbers of active personnel, yet invest heavily on domestically made aircraft – Saab JAS 39 Gripen. Now Saab ties up with Indian manufacturer – Adani Group – to manufacture Saab Gripen in India. Like other European nations, Sweden army has long history of wars and gained exceptional experience with guns and bullets.

28) Greece

Greese soldier during parade
Source: Pixabay.com

Budget: $6.5 billion

Total personnel: 413,750

  • Active personnel: 161,500
  • Reserve personnel: 252,250
  • 3.8405% of total population

Total aircrafts: 600, Total tanks: 1,345, Total naval assets: 115

Greece, where Alexander the Great born – the conqueror of Persian Empire, is a country located in Europe and a founding member of NATO. It has extensive history of war and also participated in both World Wars. Unlike Sweden, Greece doesn’t manufacture its own jets, rather it buys them from America and France. Currently, It maintains a large fleet of American-made F-16, 155 jets, and few Mirage 2000 as well.

27) Spain

Spanish soldier during militiry drills
By Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $11.6 billion

Total personnel: 174,700

  • Active personnel: 124,100
  • Reserve personnel: 50,600
  • 0.3597% of total population

Total aircrafts: 533, Total tanks: 327, Total naval assets: 46

Hala Madrid, Spain a country with millions of football fans located in Europe sharing boarders with France and Portugal. It has a modern Air Force with modern multirole fighters: F/A-18 Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon, 71 and 52 each, better than what Greece has – F-16.

26) Canada

A Canadian soldier during search operation in Afghanistan
By ISAF, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $15.5 billion

Total personnel: 111,250

  • Active personnel: 79,000
  • Reserve personnel: 32,250
  •   0.3145% of total population

Total aircrafts: 414, Total tanks: 80, Total naval assets: 63

Canada, world’s second largest nation by area, history teaches us having a mammoth size is not enough to prevent invaders from invading. However, Canada has a vast area but doesn’t have tanks in sizeable numbers – a country having large area must has sizeable numbers of tanks in fleet for gaining land superiority. Aside tanks, air force also seems poor, doesn’t have any aircraft in adequate number. Due to its territorial size and geographical advantages, Canada consider as 26th best army in the world.

25) Algeria

Algerian soldier taking part in parade
By Semper op, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $10.5 billion

Total personnel: 792,350

  • Active personnel: 520,000
  • Reserve personnel: 272,350
  • 1.9679% of total population

Total aircrafts: 502, Total tanks: 2,405, Total naval assets: 85

Algeria, a land of resources: 9th largest reserves of gas, and 2nd largest oil reserves in Africa (16th largest in the world). A land full of resources like Algeria must has a military to protect its country from the nations who kept eyes on others resources, and so do Algeria has. Besides the numbers of jet, Algerian Air Force possess some state-of-the-art Russians jets like: Sukhoi 30, 34, and 35 (Sukhoi 34 and 35 are on order). All this made Algeria second best military in African continent behind Egypt.

[Fact 1] Algeria is world’s largest Arab country.

24) Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian soldier in a parade wearing glasses and bulletproof jacket
By Al Jazeera English, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $56.7 billion

Total personnel: 256,000

  • Active personnel: 231,000
  • Reserve personnel: 25,000
  •   0.9090% of total population

Total aircrafts: 790, Total tanks: 1,142, Total naval assets: 55

Saudi Arabia, is second-largest Arab country in the world behind Algeria. Saudi is well known for its oil reserves – 2nd largest on the earth. Talking about its strength, Saudi has fair personnel number but in naval assets it is relatively lower than Algeria. While talking about Air force, Saudi has up-to-date multirole-fighter jets like Eurofighter and F-15E Strike Eagle. There are few Muslim countries in the list of most powerful militaries.

[Fact 2] Saudi Arabia, only nation on the earth, spending over 57 billion dollar on military without having a submarine.

23) North Korea

North Korean soldier moving forward
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: James Mossman

Budget: $7.5 billion

Total personnel: 6,445,000

  • Active personnel: 945,000
  • Reserve personnel: 5,500,000
  • 25.66% of total population

Total aircrafts: 944, Total tanks: 5,025, Total naval assets: 967

Yes North Korea make it into most powerful militaries list.North Korea, a regime of Kim Jong-Un, located in East Asia sharing borders with Russia, China, and South Korea.

Amazingly, despite having some serious conflicts with international community, North Korea manages to build such mighty armed force. Although all its aircrafts are 90’s made, but in naval assets it has 76 submarines.

As we based this list by taking nuclear bombs aside, yet I mention nuclear capability of North Korea, which makes it one of the most dangerous nation on the globe. Recently, North Korea successfully launch ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), a direct threat to U.S. mainland, and announced a launch of Hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on the top of an ICBM – a serious concern for America.

[Fact 3] North Korea is only nation in the world having 25.66% of its people in the armed service – active and reserve both included.

[Fact 4] North Korea is world’s largest military if we combine both active and reserve personnel.

22) Australia

Australian soldier during military drills in jungle
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $24.1 billion

Total personnel: 81,000

  • Active personnel: 60,000
  • Reserve personnel: 21,000
  • 0.3522% of total population

Total aircrafts: 465, Total tanks: 59, Total naval assets: 47

  • 2 aircraft carriers

Australia, a country, an island, or a continent? Well, all of these. Australia has very few active personnel in military service. As long as man power consider, Australia is one of the weakest army, but its air force has some modern,


VERY modern aircraft like F-35 fifth-generation-fighter. In the terms of Navy it has 2 carriers, enough to handle such modern aircrafts. That all made

21) Iran

A handsome soldier form Iran
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $6.3 billion

Total personnel: 934,000

  • Active personnel: 534,000
  • Reserve personnel: 400,000
  • 1.1279% of total population

Total aircrafts: 477, Total tanks: 1,616, Total naval assets: 398

Iran, a Persian land located in middle-east sharing borders with 7 countries. United States imposed economic sanctions on Iran during Iranian Revolution in 1979. Resultantly, Iran set far behind in the race of modern war machines. Yet it manages to has fair numbers of tanks and submarines. Iran and Saudi both rivals make possible to be in most powerful militaries.

20) Thailand

Thailand's soldier in a city carrying M16 rifle
By Takeaway, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $5.3 billion

Total personnel: 627,425

  • Active personnel: 335,425
  • Reserve personnel: 292,000
  • 0.9199% of total population

Total aircrafts: 555, Total tanks: 737, Total naval assets: 81

  • Aircraft carrier: 1

Thailand is situated in Southeast Asia, known for its forests and temples. Thailand is a key ally of U.S in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam War, Thailand provide its land to U.S. for carrying out strikes on Vietnam. Currently, Thailand has a Spanish aircraft carrier with no aircraft on it. Isn’t is funny?

19) Poland

Polish military soldier holding its position during operation
By GARY L. KIEFFER, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $9.3 billion

Total personnel: 184,650

  • Active personnel: 109,650
  • Reserve personnel: 75,000
  • 0.4793% of total population

Total aircrafts: 465, Total tanks: 1,065, Total naval assets: 83

Poland is situated in Central Europe, it has a long history of wars. Back to WW2, after the war, Poland was declared an independent satellite state under the influence of Soviet Union. It has not-so-modern air force fleet, but holds strong grip on armored and naval assets.

18) Taiwan

The Republic of China's (Taiwan) soldier holding heavy machine gun
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $10.7 billion

Total personnel: 1,932,500

  • Active personnel: 257,500
  • Reserve personnel: 1,675,000
  • 8.235% of total population

Total aircrafts: 850, Total Tanks: 2,005, Total naval assets: 87

Taiwan, Republic of China, is an island situated in East Asia. Back in 1946, when communist revolution erupted in China, that time, ruling government fled to Taiwan and formed their government. In terms of military, Taiwan has large fleet of F-16 jets, around 115, and tanks – 1978 American built M60A3 variant old tanks.

[Fact 5] Taiwan is only most populous nation in the world without UN membership.

17) Brazil

Brazilian soldier during parade carrying heavy back pack
By Ministério da Defesa, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $24.5 billion

Total personnel: 1,987,000

  • Active personnel: 334,500
  • Reserve personnel: 1,652,500
  • 0.9653% of total population

Total aircrafts: 697, Total tanks: 469, Total naval assets: 110

Brazil, a vast land located in South America, is 5th largest country by land and 6th largest by population. It has few numbers of tanks and aircrafts in its arsenal. But its reserve personnel are astonishing in numbers. South America’s only army to place position in most powerful militaries index.

[Fact 6] Brazil is largest state in South America, covering half of continent, by land and population.

16) Vietnam

A young Vietnamese soldier during passing out parade
Source: Pixabay.com

Budget: $3.3 billion

Total personnel: 5,488,500

  • Active personnel: 448,500
  •   Reserve personnel: 5,040,000
  • 5.7615% of total population

Total aircrafts: 278, Total Tanks: 1,545, Total naval assets: 65

Historically, US wants Vietnam a democratic state but communism was proved to be ultimate fate of Vietnamese people. Till today, Vietnam is a communist state. Even after American War on Vietnam, which took 58,000 American soldiers’ life along with millions of civilian casualties. Vietnam’s strength can easily be noticed by looking at the number given above.

[Fact 7] After North Korea, Vietnam has 2nd largest numbers of soldiers, if both active and reserve personnel are included.

15) Israel

Isreali female soldier
By Israel Defense Forces, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $15.5 billion

Total personnel: 718,250

  • Active personnel: 168,250
  • Reserve personnel: 550,000
  • 8.786% of total population

Total aircrafts: 652, Total tanks: 2,620, Total naval assets: 65

Israel, where 3 religions has been in war for centuries: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Israeli military is packed with modern technologies, most of them come from US, from THAAD defense system to F-35. Only Jewish state make into world’s most powerful militaries list.

14) Indonesia

Idonesian soldier during parade
Source: archive.defense.gov

Budget: $6.9 billion

Total personnel: 975,750

  •   Active personnel: 435,750
  •   Reserve personnel: 540,000
  • 0.3777% of total population

Total aircrafts: 441, Total tanks: 418, Total naval assets: 221

Indonesia, a land of hundreds of ethnic groups, located in Southeast Asia. It gets upper hand and 14th position in this list due to one major factor – geography; Indonesia is full with volcanic mountain and large number of islands.

[Fact 8] Indonesia has 17,508 islands more than any other country in the world.

13) Pakistan

Budget: $7 billion

Total personnel: 919,000

  • Active personnel: 637,000
  • Reserve personnel: 282,000
  • 0.4549% of total population

Total aircrafts: 951, Total tanks: 2,924, Total naval assets: 197

[Fact 9] Pakistan only Muslim state having nuclear stockpile.

Pakistan, the 6th largest nation on the earth and a nuclear one as well. Pak Army is among world powerful militaries because of their bravery and courage. Nuclear stockpile of Pakistan likely to exceed that of the UK and France. It fought three war with neighboring country India. Pakistan has 8 submarines in naval fleet and also ordered 8 more from China. In the terms of air force, Pakistan has 76 F-16, and 86 JF-17 – domestically made fourth-generation-fighter – and few old French and Chinese aircrafts.

[Fact 10] Muhammad Alam, a Pakistani fighter pilot, is known for a world record of having downed 5 Indian jets in less than a minute.

12) South Korea

South Korean soldier firing rifle
Source: www.af.mil

Budget: $46.8 billion

Total personnel: 5,829,750

  • Active personnel: 627,000
  • Reserve personnel: 5,202,250
  • 11.447% of total population

Total aircrafts: 1,477, Total tanks: 2,654Total naval assets: 166

  • Aircraft carrier: 1

Other part of Korean peninsula – South Korea: a state of strong economy and an army. It is a 67 years old ally of United States. Recently South Korea announced to purchase 40 F-35 from America, which gives it better air superiority in Korean peninsula.

[Fact 11] South Korea has 11.44 of its people in armed services, which is second largest in the world, behind North Korea.

11) Italy

Italian female soldier smiling
www.esercito.difesa.it, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $34 billion

Total personnel: 267,500

  • Active personnel: 247,500
  • Reserve personnel: 20,000
  • 0.4313% of total population

Total aircrafts: 822, Total tanks: 200, Total naval assets: 143

Italy, a key participant of WW1 and WW2, located in Europe. It has an extensive history of war way back when it was called Rome. Italy has one of the best air force in the world having F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon in air arsenal. Italy also manufacture advance multirole-fighters like Panavia Tornado and AMX International.

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10) Egypt

Egyptian soldier running during drills
By D. Myles Cullen, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $4.4 billion (U.S. aid not included)

Total personnel: 1,329,250

  • Active personnel: 454,250
  • Reserve personnel: 875,000
  • 1.404% of total population

Total aircrafts: 1,132, Total tanks: 4,110, Total naval assets: 319

  • Aircraft carrier: 2

Egypt, where human civilization starts, is located in Africa, linking with the Middle East. It is famously known for its pyramids and antique culture.  Egypt has strongest Army in Africa. It has considerably numbers of tanks and aircraft. Most of its air fleet possess F-16, total 228 jets. In fact, it has been seen that most nations around the globe prefer F-16 as better jet to add in its air arsenal.

[Fact 12] Egypt is only country possess 2 aircraft carriers with an annual budget of less than $5 billion.

9) Germany

German soldier ready to shoot in an operation
By Markus Rauchenberger, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $39.2 billion

Total personnel: 210,000

  • Active personnel: 180,000
  • Reserve personnel: 30,000
  • 0.2601% of total population

Total aircrafts: 698, Total tanks: 543, Total naval assets: 81

German Army, an army with astonishing war experience, was famous for its role and acts in WW1 and WW2. However, today’s Germany is changed than what it was in back 30s and 40s. Now it’s a member of NATO and involved in several peacekeeping missions. German Air Force has some modern multirole and attack jets like Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado.

8) Turkey

A Turkish troop in desert

Budget: $8.2 billion

Total personnel: 743,415

  • Active personnel: 382,850
  • Reserve personnel: 360,565
  • 0.9260% of total population

Total aircrafts: 1,018, Total tanks: 2,445, Total naval assets: 194

Turkish Army is the best Muslim army in this list of most powerful militaries. It has large fleet of jets, tanks, and naval assets. Turkish army can trace its origin back to Ottoman Empire. After the fall of Ottoman Empire, Turkey declared as an independent state. Since then Turkey gained massive military power. Turkey aims to buy F-35 from America. However, for additional air superiority it’s recently started its “TAI TFX” program of aircrafts which replace the current fleet of F-16.

7) Japan

Japanese soldier aiming gun upwards
By Lance Cpl. David Rogers, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $43.8 billion

Total personnel: 311,875

  • Active personnel: 248,575
  • Reserve personnel: 63,300
  • 0.2461% of total population

Total aircrafts: 1,594, Total tanks: 700Total naval assets: 131

  • Helicopter-attack carriers: 4

Japan is an island nation in East Asia located in Pacific Ocean. Its cars, economy, and military is what Japan is famous for. Japan Self-Defense Force was established in 1954, and fought a deadliest war with US. Japan find itself in need of a modern armed force to face challenges coming from its neighbors like China, South and North Korea.

6) United Kingdom

British soldier holding a gun
By SAC Phil Dye, Source: www.defenceimages.mod.uk

Budget: $45.7 billion

Total personnel: 232,675

  •   Active personnel: 151,175
  •   Reserve personnel: 81,500
  •   0.3611% of total population

Total aircrafts: 856, Total tanks: 249, Total naval assets: 76

  • Aircraft carriers: 2

United Kingdom, only country to conquer almost a quarter of land and population of world. Hence, British Army was the mightiest military in the history of mankind. It conquer most of the states in the world. To describe British Empire it was said that “the empire on which the sun never sets”. Till today, British has one of the best army on the earth. UK military has variety of multirole-fighter in its air fleet, and also possess 2 modern aircraft carriers.

[Fact 13] British had invaded nine out of ten countries on the earth.

5) France

French soldier
By Spc. Kalie Frantz., via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $35 billion

Total personnel: 387,635

  • Active personnel: 204,000
  • Reserve personnel: 183,635
  • 0.5799% of total population

Total aircrafts: 1,305, Total tanks: 406, Total naval assets: 118

  • Aircraft carriers: 4

France is located in Europe: a member of NATO, an ally of US, and 3rd largest nuclear stockpile nation. French army is highly trained and experienced: fought 168 wars since 387 BC, and have won 109 of them. France is also manufacturer one of the most sophisticated jet – Dassault Rafale a fourth-generation-fighter.

4) India

Indian soldier in jungle during a military drill
By Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod,via www.army.mil

Budget: $51 billion

Total personnel: 4,207,250

  • Active personnel: 1,362,500
  • Reserve personnel: 2,844,750
  • 0.3320% of total population

Total aircrafts: 2,102, Total tanks: 4,426, Total naval assets: 295

  • Aircraft carriers: 1

India a South Asian state, got its independence in August 15, 1947, from British. Today India stands above than the ruler who ruled it for almost 2 centuries – United Kingdom. India is most powerful country in South Asia and a nuclear power state as well. India has large fleet of tanks for protecting its vast land area and gained air superiority from Russian made Sukhoi variants. And all this make possible for India to be  on no.4 army in most powerful militaries list.

[Fact 14] In August 1947, India was broken and Pakistan was formed. Now both countries are nuclear power and rivals, fought 3 wars.

3) China

Chinese Army parade
Source: Kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $161.7 billion (2nd largest in the world)

Total personnel: 3,712,500

  • Active personnel: 2,260,000
  • Reserve personnel: 1,452,500
  • 0.2702% of total population

Total aircrafts: 2,955Total tanks: 6,457, Total naval assets: 714

  •   Aircraft carriers: 1

China, one of the oldest nation and now leading economy, has one of the best military in the world. China’s modern and large fleet of submarine (68 submarines) makes seas war in favor of it. Not only on earth, China’s People’s Liberation Army is also active in space by having 113 military satellite into the space, behind US 371 satellite. US, China, and Russia are among powerful militaries in space.

[Fact 15] After US, China is only nation successfully manufactured a fifth-generation-multirole-fighter: J-20.

2) Russia

Russian Military parade in Mascow
Source: Kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons

Budget: $44.6 billion

Total personnel: 3,371,027

  • Active personnel: 798,527
  • Reserve personnel: 2,572,500
  • 2.368% of total population

Total aircrafts: 3,794, Total tanks: 20,216, Total naval assets: 352

  •   Aircraft carriers: 1

Russia and U.S. has long rivalry history but none of them directly combat with each other in battle field. Russia is largest country by land and so has largest fleet of tanks as well. Russian’s S-400 anti-aircraft weapon is famous for its accuracy and range – better than American THAAD. In fact in Russian arsenal of war, you shall never find any war machine from is American soil.

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Best AirForce in the World Right Now1)  United States of America

US Army troops during an operationBudget: $587 billion

Total personnel: 1,373,650

  • Active personnel: 798,527
  • Reserve personnel: 990,025
  • 0.7295% of total population

Total aircrafts: 13,762, Total tanks: 5,884, Total naval assets: 415

  • Aircraft carriers: 19

America, a nation of immigrants, a nation face civil war and reform itself, a nation with hard work and intelligence. America, with no doubt, has strongest, powerful, and mighty military in the world. Thus, in every department of military, US has upper hand than any other nation; in satellites, aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and military expenditure. In other words, United States of America has one of powerful military mankind has ever witnessed – numbers speaks itself. The numbers given above set US position no.1 in most powerful militaries ranking.


It was a wonderful morning, 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, when everything in the history of warfare changes – first detonation of nuclear bomb by U.S. in Jornada del Muerto. Since then, war becomes a situation of loss and loss, there is no win after all. But as far as sovereignty of state concern military decides the future of the nation in hard times. So it’s always been better to be among world’s powerful militaries.

Note: This list is based on conventional warfare, nuclear, biological, and chemical bombs arsenal are not consider a factor of ranking. Data given in list may changes due to upgradation or reduction in any military given in this list.

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