These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world in 2018

Russian sailors at a farewell ceremony for the departure of the nuclear-powered cruiser

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

With its National Defense Strategy released earlier this year, the US detailed its shift from small-scale operations like counterinsurgency and toward a potential fight with a rival like Russia or China.

Countries around the world have made similar moves, refocusing on large-scale conflict.

Amid those changes, head-to-head comparisons of military strength are hard to come by. Global Firepower’s 2018 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 55 factors to assign a Power Index score to 136 countries – adding Ireland, Montenegro, and Liberia to last year’s list.

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

While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, their nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score. Landlocked countries are not docked for lacking a navy, but countries with navies are penalized if there is a lack of diversity in their fleets.

NATO countries get a slight bonus because the alliance theoretically shares resources, but in general, a country’s current political and military leadership was not considered (though financial health and stability are).

The top power index score is 0.0000, which is “realistically unattainable” for any military according to Global Firepower. The closer they are to this number, the more powerful their military is.

Per these criteria, these are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world:


25. Canada

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Royal Canadian army sappers await attack after constructing makeshift barricades near Alvdal in central Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture, November 4, 2018.
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Rob Kunzing/NATO

Power Index rating: 0.4356 (NATO member)

Total population: 35,623,680

Total military personnel: 88,000

Total aircraft strength: 413

Fighter aircraft: 60

Combat tanks: 80

Total naval assets: 63

Defense budget: $16.4 billion


24. Taiwan

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

Power Index rating: 0.4331

Total population: 23,508,428

Total military personnel: 1,932,500

Total aircraft strength: 843

Fighter aircraft: 286

Combat tanks: 2,005

Total naval assets: 87

Defense budget: $10.725 billion


23. Algeria

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

Power Index rating: 0.4296

Total population: 40,969,443

Total military personnel: 792,350

Total aircraft strength: 528

Fighter aircraft: 97

Combat tanks: 2,405

Total naval assets: 85

Defense budget: $10.57 billion


22. Poland

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Polish soldiers during a military exercise with the US 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division near Drawsko-Pomorskie, November 13, 2014.
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Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.4276 (NATO member)

Total population: 38,476,269

Total military personnel: 184,650

Total aircraft strength: 466

Fighter aircraft: 99

Combat tanks: 1,065

Total naval assets: 83

Defense budget: $9.36 billion


21. Australia

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An Australian soldier crosses a beach during an assault exercise as part of multinational exercise RIMPAC, in Kaneohe, Hawaii, July 29, 2014
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Hugh Gentry/REUTERS

Power Index rating: 0.4203

Total population: 23,232,413

Total military personnel: 79,700

Total aircraft strength: 469

Fighter aircraft: 78

Combat tanks: 59

Total naval assets: 47 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $26.3 billion


20. Vietnam

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

Power Index rating: 0.4098

Total population: 96,160,163

Total military personnel: 5,488,500

Total aircraft strength: 283

Fighter aircraft: 76

Combat 1,545

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $3.365 billion


19. Spain

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A sniper and spotter from the Spanish Lepanto Battalion line up their target as part of an exercise near Folldal during Exercise Trident Juncture.
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Photo by 1st German/Netherlands Corps

Power Index rating: 0.4079 (NATO member)

Total population: 48,958,159

Total military personnel: 174,700

Total aircraft strength: 524

Fighter aircraft: 122

Combat tanks: 327

Total naval assets: 46 (one aircraft carrier

Defense budget: $11.6 billion


18. North Korea

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REUTERS/KCNA

Power Index rating: 0.3876

Total population: 25,248,140

Total military personnel: 6,445,000

Total aircraft strength: 944

Fighter aircraft: 458

Combat tanks: 5,243

Total naval assets: 967

Defense budget: $7.5 billion


17. Pakistan

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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.
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Mohsin Raza/Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3689

Total population: 204,924,861

Total military personnel: 919,000

Total aircraft strength: 1,281

Fighter aircraft: 321

Combat tanks: 2,182

Total naval assets: 197

Defense budget: $7 billion


16. Israel

Power Index rating: 0.3444

Total population: 8,299,706

Total military personnel: 615,000

Total aircraft strength: 596

Fighter aircraft: 252

Combat tanks: 2,760

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $20 billion


15. Indonesia

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

Power Index rating: 0.3266

Total population: 260,580,739

Total military personnel: 975,750

Total aircraft strength: 478

Fighter aircraft: 41

Combat tanks: 418

Total naval assets: 221

Defense budget: $6.9 billion


14. Brazil

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

Power Index rating: 0.3198

Total population: 207,353,391

Total military personnel: 1,987,000

Total aircraft strength: 723

Fighter aircraft: 43

Combat tanks: 469

Total naval assets: 110

Defense budget: $29.3 billion


13. Iran

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A soldier on an Iranian navy destroyer at Port Sudan in Sudan, October 31, 2012.
source
Reuters

Power Index rating: 0.3131

Total population: 82,021,564

Total military personnel: 934,000

Total aircraft strength: 505

Fighter aircraft: 150

Combat tanks: 1,650

Total naval assets: 398

Defense budget: $6.3 billion


12. Egypt

Power Index rating: 0.2751

Total population: 97,041,072

Total military personnel: 1,329,250

Total aircraft strength: 1,132

Fighter aircraft: 309

Combat tanks: 4,946

Total naval assets: 319 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $4.4 billion


11. Italy

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An Italian soldier patrols the Lebanese coast from a helicopter, as the Italian aircraft-carrying cruiser Garibaldi patrols near Beirut, October 1, 2006.
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REUTERS/Fadi Ghalioum

Power Index rating: 0.2565 (NATO member)

Total population: 62,137,802

Total military personnel: 267,500

Total aircraft strength: 828

Fighter aircraft: 90

Combat tanks: 200

Total naval assets: 143 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $37.7 billion


10. Germany

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

Power Index rating: 0.2461 (NATO member)

Total population: 80,594,017

Total military personnel: 208,641

Total aircraft strength: 714

Fighter aircraft: 94

Combat tanks: 432

Total naval assets: 81

Defense budget: $45.2 billion


9. Turkey

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

Power Index rating: 0.2216 (NATO member)

Total population: 80,845,215

Total military personnel: 710,565

Total aircraft strength: 1,056

Fighter aircraft: 207

Combat tanks: 2,446

Total naval assets: 194

Defense budget: $10.2 billion


8. Japan

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

Power Index rating: 0.2107

Total population: 126,451,398

Total military personnel: 310,457

Total aircraft strength: 1,508

Fighter aircraft: 290

Combat tanks: 679

Total naval assets: 131 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $44 billion


7. South Korea

Power Index rating: 0.2001

Total population: 51,181,299

Total military personnel: 5,827,250

Total aircraft strength: 1,560

Fighter aircraft: 406

Combat tanks: 2,654

Total naval assets: 166 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $40 billion


6. United Kingdom

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

Power Index rating: 0.1917 (NATO member)

Total population: 64,769,452

Total military personnel: 279,230

Total aircraft strength: 832

Fighter aircraft: 103

Combat tanks 227

Total naval assets: 76 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $50 billion


5. France

Power Index rating: 0.1869 (NATO member)

Total population: 67,106,161

Total military personnel: 388,635

Total aircraft strength: 1,262

Fighter aircraft 299

Combat tanks: 406

Total naval assets: 118 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $40 billion


4. India

Power Index rating: 0.1417

Total population: 1,281,935,911

Total military personnel: 4,207,250

Total aircraft strength: 2,185

Fighter aircraft: 590

Combat tanks: 4,426

Total naval assets: 295 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $47 billion


3. China

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

Power Index rating: 0.0852

Total population: 1,379,302,771

Total military personnel: 2,693,000

Total aircraft strength: 3,035

Fighter aircraft: 1,125

Combat tanks: 7,716

Total naval assets: 714 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $151 billion


2. Russia

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

Power Index rating: 0.0841

Total population: 142,257,519

Total military personnel: 3,586,128

Total aircraft strength: 3,914

Fighter aircraft: 818

Combat tanks: 20,300

Total naval assets: 352 (one aircraft carrier out of service indefinitely)

Defense budget: $47 billion


1. United States

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US Marines practice “combat gliding” at Camp Wilson on Twentynine Palms, California, January 31, 2015.
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US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kathryn Howard/Released

Power Index rating: 0.0818 (NATO member)

Total population: 326,625,791

Total military personnel: 2,083,100

Total aircraft: 13,362

Fighter aircraft: 1,962

Combat tanks: 5,884

Total naval assets: 415 (20 aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $647 billion