America and China: Which Country Has the Most Powerful Military Force?

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America's armored fighting vehicles
America has a massive 38,822 armored fighting vehicles. The newest model of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer will be able to hit enemies 43 miles away, and will have onboard power generation, high-voltage electric gun drives and projectile ramming systems. America's Amphibious Assault Vehicle is a swimming armored vehicle with a .50-cal machine gun or a 40 mm grenade launcher.

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WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

China's armored fighting vehicles
China has 9,000 armored fighting vehicles, roughly a quarter the amount of the U.S. The new VN-17 infantry-fighting vehicle has an unmanned turret with two infrared sensors, a 7.62mm machine gun, and medium-range HJ-12 anti-tank missiles.

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America's missiles
The U.S. has implemented its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, 50ft-tall, three-stage missiles, which are designed to intercept incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is currently developing the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile system to replace the 45-year-old Minuteman III, which was intended to last just 20 years and still requires 8-inch floppy disks to operate. The GBSD will have 642 nuclear missiles, which will cost up to $85 billion.

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China's missiles
China is currently “building and deploying a sophisticated and modern missile arsenal, though one shrouded in secrecy due to intentional ambiguity and unwillingness to enter arms control or other transparency agreements,” according to the CSIS. This includes maneuverable anti-ship ballistic missiles, MIRVs, and hypersonic glide vehicles. China has nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. homeland, and a growing fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
It is also developing a hypersonic glide vehicle known as DF-ZF, and the world's most advanced hypersonic wind tunnel, to make its nuclear and non-nuclear missiles extremely fast. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, China's Dong Feng 21 (DF-21D) missile, has an estimated top speed of Mach 10, with a maximum range of 1,250 miles. It can take out an entire U.S. aircraft carrier in one strike.

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America's air force
America has 13,362 units in its air force, with 312 operational squadrons. It is by far the largest air fleet in the world, with some of the best technology. However, a report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission suggests China may be catching up—“with the advances made by the [People's Liberation Army] Air Force, the United States and its allies and partners can no longer assume achieving air superiority in an Indo-Pacific conflict,” it says.

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WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

China's air force
China has a total of 3,035 aircraft. That's a lot less than the U.S., but a recent Pentagon report warns that China's air force “continues to modernize and is closing the gap rapidly with Western air forces across a broad spectrum of capabilities. This development is gradually eroding the significant technical advantage held by the United States.” China has a number of fifth-generation fighter planes, and will develop a number of air-to-air missiles by 2020. These will force the US to adapt their tactics and combat-aerospace development programmes.

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ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

America's fighter and interceptor planes
America has 1,962 fighter and interceptor planes. This includes the F-22 stealth fighter, the world's best air-to-air combat plane, operational since 2005. The newer F-35 stealth fighter has the top-notch sensors and is great at knocking out air defenses. Combined, there are about 400 F-22s and F-35s in U.S. military service. The U.S. hopes to develop a sixth-generation fighter plane, as well as a F-22/F-35 hybrid.

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China's fighter and interceptor planes
China has 1,125 fighter and interceptor planes, including the J-31, a new fifth-generation stealth fighter. Using stealth coatings to evade detection, the J-31 can carry air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles externally and four munitions internally. Their plane stash also includes hundreds of J-7s, over 100 heavy bombers and tankers and 20 airborne early warning planes.

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America's helicopters
America has 5,758 helicopters. Their UH-1N “Huey” helicopter fleet is currently being replaced after almost 50 years of use. The U.S. plans to buy 84 MH-139s, which can fly faster, further and carry more people.

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China's helicopters
China currently has 985 helicopters, and a new Z-19E helicopter is readying production. The Z-19E can be armed with up to eight HJ-8s, an anti-tank guided missile, air-to-surface missile, a 23-millimeter cannon and eight TY-90 air-to-air missiles.

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Chief Mass Communication Specialist Christopher Delano/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

America's maritime power
America has 415 total naval assets, including 283 warships and submarines. Some 60 percent of the Navy is deployed in the Pacific, according to The New York Times, where tense encounters with Chinese ships are common. While China has far more ships than America, the U.S. ships are, on average, bigger and better equipped. According to two Brookings scholars writing in The New York Times, “the United States Navy still has a combined tonnage at least twice that of China.”

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China's maritime power
China has a total of 714 naval assets, with 255,000 sailors and 10,000 marines divided into the North, East and South Seas Fleets. It operates more than 300 warships—more than the U.S. Navy operates. With sea territories being of vital importance to the country, China has been working hard to improve its naval capabilities. Last year China's latest warship, the Type 55 cruiser, was put into the water. The ship has FL-3000N missile CIWS system and a 30mm gun. China is also in the advanced stages of developing an electromagnetic railgun, recently spotted mounted on a Chinese navy ship, where it could revolutionize naval combat.