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Tech 425

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

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These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world — and there's a clear winner



US Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, March 24, 2017. Photo By: Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning

President Donald Trump has emphasized military might during his first year in office, but the US is not the only country seeking to expand its battlefield capacities. Between 2012 and 2016, more weapons were delivered than during any five-year period since 1990.

Arms sales indicate who is beefing up their armed forces, but head-to-head military comparisons are harder to come by. Global Firepower's 2017 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 50 factors to assign a Power Index score to 133 countries.

The ranking assesses the diversity of weapons held by each country and pays particular attention to the manpower available. The geography, logistical capacity, available natural resources, and the status of local industry are also taken into account.


Russian sailors at a farewell ceremony for nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great heading to military exercises at sea, in Severomorsk, Russia, March 30, 2010. Lev Fedoseyev/Reuters

While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, the nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score.

Moreover, countries that are landlocked are not docked points for lacking a navy, though they are penalized for not having a merchant marine force.

Countries with navies are penalized if there is a lack of diversity in their naval assets.

NATO countries get a slight bonus because the alliance would theoretically share resources, but in general, a country's current political and military leadership was not considered.

"Balance is the key — a large, strong fighting force across land, sea and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure — such qualities are those used to round out a particular nation's total fighting strength on paper," the ranking states.

Below, you can see the 25 most powerful militaries in the world:

25. Algeria


Algerian soldiers at the Tiguentourine Gas Plant in In Amenas, 994 miles southeast of Algiers, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

Power Index rating: 0.4366

Total population: 40,263,711

Total military personnel: 792,350

Total aircraft strength: 502

Fighter aircraft: 89

Combat tanks: 2,405

Total naval assets: 85

Defense budget: $10.6 billion

24. Saudi Arabia


Saudi troops stand attention at their base in Yemen's southern port city of Aden September 28, 2015. Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.4302

Total population: 28,160,273

Total military personnel: 256,000

Total aircraft strength: 790

Fighter aircraft: 177

Combat tanks: 1,142

Total naval assets: 55

Defense budget: $56.7 billion

23. North Korea



Power Index rating: 0.4218

Total population: 25,115,311

Total military personnel: 6,445,000

Total aircraft strength: 944

Fighter aircraft: 458

Combat tanks: 5,025

Total naval assets: 967

Defense budget: $7.5 billion

22. Australia


An Australian soldier with 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment makes his way up the beach after landing in amphibious assault vehicle from the USS Peleliu during an assault exercise at Marine Corps Base Hawaii as part of multinational military exercise RIMPAC, in Kaneohe, Hawaii, July 29, 2014 Hugh Gentry/REUTERS

Power Index rating: 0.4072

Total population: 22,992,654

Total military personnel: 81,000

Total aircraft strength: 465

Fighter aircraft: 78

Combat tanks: 59

Total naval assets: 47 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $24.1 billion

21. Iran


A soldier aboard Iranian Navy destroyer Shahid Naqdi at Port Sudan at the Red Sea State, October 31, 2012. Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3933

Total population: 82,801,633

Total military personnel: 934,000

Total aircraft strength: 477

Fighter aircraft: 137

Combat tanks: 1,616

Total naval assets: 398

Defense budget: $6.3 billion

20. Thailand


Thai marines participate in an amphibious assault exercise as part of the Cobra Gold 2017 joint military exercise with the US at a military base in Chonburi province, Thailand, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Power Index rating: 0.3892

Total population: 68,200,824

Total military personnel: 627,425

Total aircraft strength: 555

Fighter aircraft: 76

Combat tanks: 737

Total naval assets: 81 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $5.4 billion

19. Poland


Members of Poland's 1st Mechanized Battalion of the 7th Coastal Defense Brigade take part in a military exercise with the US 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division near Drawsko-Pomorskie, November 13, 2014. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3831

Total population: 38,523,261

Total military personnel: 184,650

Total aircraft strength: 465

Fighter aircraft: 99

Combat tanks: 1,065

Total naval assets: 83

Defense budget: $9.4 billion

18. Taiwan


Taiwanese submarines at a navy base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, March 21, 2017. Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3765

Total population: 23,464,787

Total military personnel: 1,932,500

Total aircraft strength: 850

Fighter aircraft: 286

Combat tanks: 2,005

Total naval assets: 87

Defense budget: $10.7 billion

17. Brazil


Brazilian navy personnel patrol in an armored vehicle during an operation against drug dealers in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Power Index rating: 0.3654

Total population: 205,823,665

Total military personnel: 1,987,000

Total aircraft strength: 697

Fighter aircraft: 43

Combat tanks: 469

Total naval assets: 110

Defense budget: $24.5 billion

16. Vietnam


Vietnamese soldiers march in a parade marking the 70th National Day at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, Vietnam, September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Kham

Power Index rating: 0.3587

Total population: 95,261,021

Total military personnel: 5,488,500

Total aircraft strength: 278

Fighter aircraft: 76

Combat: 1,545

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $3.4 billion

15. Israel


Israeli soldiers secure the Israel-Lebanon border, January 28, 2015. Ariel Schalit/AP

Power Index rating: 0.3476

Total population: 8,174,527

Total military personnel: 718,250

Total aircraft strength: 652

Fighter aircraft: 243

Combat tanks: 2,620

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $15.5 billion

14. Indonesia


Indonesian soldiers arrive at Talang Betutu airport in Palembang to reinforce firefighter teams in south Sumatra province, September 10, 2015 Beawiharta Beawiharta/REUTERS

Power Index rating: 0.3347

Total population: 258,316,051

Total military personnel: 975,750

Total aircraft strength: 441

Fighter aircraft: 39

Combat tanks: 418

Total naval assets: 221

Defense budget: $6.9 billion

13. Pakistan


A Pakistani Ranger gestures during a daily parade at the Pakistan-India joint checkpoint at Wagah border, on the outskirts of Lahore, October 23, 2011. Mohsin Raza/Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3287

Total population: 201,995,540

Total military personnel: 919,000

Total aircraft strength: 951

Fighter aircraft: 301

Combat tanks: 2,924

Total naval assets: 197

Defense budget: $7 billion

12. South Korea


A South Korean army K1A1 battle tank fires during South Korea-US joint military live-fire drills at Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, August 28, 2015. AP

Power Index rating: 0.2741

Total population: 50,924,172

Total military personnel: 5,829,750

Total aircraft strength: 1,477

Fighter aircraft: 406

Combat tanks: 2,654

Total naval assets: 166 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $43.8 billion


11. Italy


An Italian soldier, part the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL), patrols the Lebanese coast from a helicopter as the Italian aircraft-carrying cruiser Garibaldi patrols near Beirut, Lebanon, October 1, 2006. REUTERS/Fadi Ghalioum

Power Index rating: 0.2694

Total population: 62,007,540

Total military personnel: 267,500

Total aircraft strength: 822

Fighter aircraft: 79

Combat tanks: 200

Total naval assets: 143 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $34 billion

10. Egypt


Egyptian military police stand guard at the Almaza military airport where the bodies of soldiers who died in attacks in north Sinai were being turned over to relatives for burial, in Cairo, Egypt, January 30, 2015. Associated Press

Power Index rating: 0.2676

Total population: 94,666,993

Total military personnel: 1,329,250

Total aircraft strength: 1,132

Fighter aircraft: 337

Combat tanks: 4,110

Total naval assets: 319 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $4.4 billion

9. Germany


German Bundeswehr soldiers fire mortars during the Joint Air Warfare Tactical Exercise 2014 at an army training area in Bergen, May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Power Index rating: 0.2609

Total population: 80,722,792

Total military personnel: 210,000

Total aircraft strength: 698

Fighter aircraft: 92

Combat tanks: 543

Total naval assets: 81

Defense budget: $39.2 billion

8. Turkey


Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016 Umit Bektas/Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.2491

Total population: 80,274,604

Total military personnel: 743,415

Total aircraft strength: 1,018

Fighter aircraft: 207

Combat tanks: 2,445

Total naval assets: 194

Defense budget: $8.2 billion

7. Japan


Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force tanks fire during an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, August 19, 2014. Yuya Shino/REUTERS

Power Index rating: 0.2137

Total population: 126,702,133

Total military personnel: 311,875

Total aircraft strength: 1,594

Fighter aircraft: 288

Combat tanks: 700

Total naval assets: 131 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $43.8 billion

6. United Kingdom


A British Parachute Regiment soldier prepares to load a helicopter during a simulated medical evacuation in an exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area, in Hohenfels, Germany, June 17, 2016. Sgt. Seth Plagenza/US Army

Power Index rating: 0.2131

Total population: 64,430,428

Total military personnel: 232,675

Total aircraft strength: 856

Fighter aircraft: 88

Combat tanks: 249

Total naval assets: 76 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $45.7 billion

5. France


Tanks drive down the Champs Elysees avenue during the Bastille Day parade in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2017. Associated Press

Power Index rating: 0.1914

Total population: 66,836,154

Total military personnel: 387,635

Total aicraft strength: 1,305

Fighter aircraft: 296

Combat tanks: 406

Total naval assets: 118 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $35 billion

4. India


Indian soldiers, followed by Bhishma tank, the locally assembled version of the T-90 S tank, and vehicle-mounted Brahmos missiles in a Republic Day parade in front of the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2009. AP

Power Index rating: 0.1593

Total population: 1,266,883,598

Total military personnel: 4,207,250

Total aircraft strength: 2,102

Fighter aircraft: 676

Combat tanks: 4,426

Total naval assets: 295 (three aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $51 billion

3. China


Soldiers from a special unit of the People's Armed Police in Xinjiang at a training session in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. Reuters/Stringer

Power Index rating: 0.0945

Total population: 1,373,541,278

Total military personnel: 3,712,500

Total aircraft strength: 2,955

Fighter aircraft: 1,271

Combat tanks: 6,457

Total naval assets: 714 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $161.7 billion

2. Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine-warfare ship in Novorossiysk, September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Power Index rating: 0.0929

Total population: 142,355,415

Total military personnel: 3,371,027

Total aircraft strength: 3,794

Fighter aircraft: 806

Combat tanks: 20,216

Total naval assets: 352 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $44.6 billion

1. United States


US Marines with Combat Logistics Detachment 1, Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 1st Marine Logistics Group, practice "combat gliding" during Integrated Training Exercise 2-15 at Camp Wilson on Twentynine Palms, California, January 31, 2015. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kathryn Howard/Released

Power Index rating: 0.0857

Total population: 323,995,528

Total military personnel: 2,363,675

Total aircraft: 13,762

Fighter aircraft: 2,296

Combat tanks: 5,884

Total naval assets: 415 (19 aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $587.8 billion


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