Strongest militaries in 2019: comparing global armed forces

Talal Husseini 15 May 2019 (Last Updated January 21st, 2020 05:57)

The latest figures from the Global Fire Power Index identify the strongest militaries in 2019. In which areas are some of the strongest militaries dominating and where do they fall short?

Strongest militaries in 2019: comparing global armed forces
The latest figures from the Global Fire Power Index identify the strongest militaries in 2019. Credit: US Army/Maricris C McLane.

What are the strongest militaries in 2019? Each year since 2006, the Global Fire Power Index has ranked 137 modern military powers using 55 different metrics to give each country a score based on their size, finances, and number of high tech equipment.  A perfect score in the index is 0.

We take a look at the top ranking nations, and find out why they are ranked in this order, including the areas where some nations excel in terms of military power and where others fall short.

1. The United States (Power Index (PI): 0.0615)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US is ranked number one in most of the directly comparable metrics, such as total aircraft strength with 13,398 aircraft, including 5,760 helicopters in service, which is the most out of any nation in the world.  At $716bn, the US also has the world’s largest defence budget, $492bn more than China – the world’s second largest defence spender.

The US falls short of first place in only a few metrics, such as the number of combat tanks with 6,287 (ranked 3rd); the number of self-propelled artillery equalling 992 (7th), and the number of rocket projectors (15th).

In terms of naval assets, the US is second only to China, with 415 and 714 respectively.

2. Russia (PI: 0.0639)

Russia holds first place in certain metrics. It is the top nation in terms of number of combat tanks with 21,932 – more than three times the US’s total – and also armoured fighting vehicles (of which it has more than 50,000) and self-propelled artillery. For every other comparative metric, Russia holds either 2nd or 3rd place.

Moreover, this is all made possible with a relatively small defence budget of $44bn. Russia also has a strong navy, with a total of 352 assets. This includes 82 corvettes, more than the US (15) and China (42) combined.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly at number three we have: