Top 10 strongest military forces in the world

US Marines in Fallujah, Iraq. Public domain

Lists of the strongest military forces appear in various publications now that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has the world on edge.

Images of bombed buildings, crowds crammed into shelters, caravans of refugees running for cover, flashes of nighttime explosions and desperate wounded are now beamed daily on television screens.

At the same time, images of Russian tanks rolling into Kyiv bring back many memories for seniors of eras they would like to forget.

What is worse, however, is that the fear on the faces of Ukrainians breeds greater fear: what if this madness was the precursor to World War III?

Looking at the most powerful military forces in the world, we see that the two great rivals are the same as during the Cold War era, with China emerging as a third player, but with unclear geopolitical intentions.

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American planes in the Gulf War, 1991. Public domain

United States

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The Star Spangled Banner marks the strongest military power in the world. Despite the crushing defeat of the United States in Afghanistan, its armed forces have an imposing presence throughout the world.

With military bases in many parts of the world, America’s armed forces remain the strongest of any on the planet.

With a budget of 738 billion dollars and 1,388,000 men and women in the armed forces, it has 6,125 nuclear weapons, 11 aircraft carriers, 68 nuclear submarines, 3,761 military aircraft, 867 attack helicopters, 6 209 tanks and 113 warships.

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Russian Arctic military unit. Credit: Fazetraze3/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0


America’s sworn enemy after World War II was of course the communist Soviet Union. Today’s Russia is a capitalist country but retains the military power of the former Red Empire.

Currently, Russia has an army of one million men and women with a budget of $43.2 billion. It has twice as many tanks as the United States (13,830) and about the same number of nuclear weapons (6,500), but only one aircraft carrier.

It also has 70 warships, 28 nuclear submarines and 1,379 aircraft.

people of the republic of china

The unpredictable rising power in the East is the third strongest military power; it has not been involved in major armed conflicts in recent decades.

Naturally, a country of over 1.4 billion people has a strong military presence, with a current budget of $193 billion and 2,185 million men and women fighting.

China has 5,651 tanks, two aircraft carriers, 133 navy ships, 12 nuclear submarines, 1,093 military aircraft and 290 nuclear weapons.

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India Army Day, 2013. Credit: Hemantphoto79/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0


Many would think that India is not a great military power, let alone in fourth place. Still, for a country of over 1.4 billion people (similar to China), a $64 billion national defense budget is a fair number.

On the ground, it has 1,455 million soldiers, 4,740 combat tanks, an aircraft carrier, 35 battleships, 14 nuclear submarines, 841 aircraft and 150 nuclear weapons.


One of the Axis forces in World War II, Japan has not been involved in any major conflicts in recent decades.

Japan’s current budget is $49.7 billion and 247,000 men and women serve in the armed forces.

On the ground, it has 580 tanks and at sea two aircraft carriers, 47 warships and 22 submarines. In the air, it has 606 combat aircraft.

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Joint exercise of Korean and American Marines. Credit: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

South Korea

South Korea has 600,000 people in its armed forces and a military budget of $40.4 billion. On the ground, it employs 2,321 battle tanks and at sea, it has 35 warships.

Even though it neighbors the unpredictable North Korea, it has no nuclear weapons. It has an air force with 595 aircraft.

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French helicopter above Fort Madama, Niger. Credit: Thomas Goisque/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0


First military force of the EU, France plays an active role in the defense of the Union with a budget of 55 billion dollars and 208,700 men and women who serve there.

The French naval fleet dominates in the Mediterranean with an aircraft carrier, 27 warships and eight nuclear submarines.

Two years ago, France sent warships to the Cypriot EEZ to protect a research vessel of French interest from the Turkish Navy which was harassing it.


Another Mediterranean naval power, Italy has two aircraft carriers and 16 warships. Its military budget is $29.3 billion and has 165,500 military personnel, while in the air it flies 241 war-capable aircraft.

Italy has not been involved in major conflicts since World War II, when as a fascist regime it allied itself with the Third Reich.

The United Kingdom

The armed forces of the former British Empire no longer dominate in Europe and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, it still retains a significant military force.

The UK has a budget of $61.5 billion and 138,500 men and women serving in the armed forces and 225 military aircraft.

On the ground, the United Kingdom employs 227 battle tanks. At sea, it has two aircraft carriers, 30 warships and 11 nuclear submarines.


In recent years, Turkey has attempted to establish itself as a major military force in a wide area spanning Northeastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, Asia Minor and North Africa.

A prominent member of NATO, Turkey has an army of 355,200 men and women and a budget of only $11 billion.

However, in its arsenal it has 4,378 tanks, and at sea 26 warships and 12 submarines. Its air force has 310 aircraft.

Source: Wikipedia


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