The Most Powerful Military Forces in the World

Both North and South Korea have moved several places up the list this year, and so has Iran.Newsweek
75. Democratic Republic of the Congo (76). Power Index: 1.3651. Defense Budget: $162,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 144,625. Total Aircraft Strength: 40. Tanks: 200. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 210. Total Naval Assets: 20. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Every year, Global Firepower releases its list of the most powerful military forces in the world. America predictably tops the list again in 2018, and the rest of the top five is unchanged from last year.

But things get more interesting further down the list. Both North and South Korea have moved several places up the list since last year, likely to do with recent military escalations in the region. It remains to be seen if the diplomatic moves towards denuclearization will affect their ranking in next year’s list.

Another big mover on the list is Iran. The nation has hit the news in recent months, with the military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying he is prepared for war with the U.S. and Israel. Iran’s new ranking higher up the list indicates he's been putting his money where his mouth is.

A few countries have slipped down the list, but this doesn't necessarily mean Malaysia, Chile and Austria have less powerful militaries than last year. Countries' rankings are not just based on the total number of weapons they have. Global Firepower also takes into account geographical and diplomatic factors, financial stability, and ability to call on powerful allies.

Another country that has fallen down the list is Ethiopia, amid the signing of a declaration to end a years-long military stand-off with neighboring Eritrea. Diplomatic relations broke off after a two-year war ended in 2000, but the countries are now ready to re-establish ties.

Global Firepower has given each country a Power Index score (the lower the better), determined by considering more than 50 elements of military strength, including manpower available and diversity of weapons.

Along with the Power Index score we’ve included each nation’s position last year, as well as its defense budget, military personnel numbers, and numbers of aircraft, tanks, submarines and more, to give a more comprehensive idea of each country’s military strengths and weaknesses.

74. Libya (73). Power Index: 1.2558. Defense Budget: $3,000,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 100,000. Total Aircraft Strength: 118. Tanks: 340. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 699. Total Naval Assets: 5. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Reuters
73. Cuba (75). Power Index: 1.2289. Defense Budget: $700,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 1,256,000. Total Aircraft Strength: 80. Tanks: 50. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 1,830. Total Naval Assets: 12. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 1. Desmond Boylan/Reuters
72. Croatia (68). Power Index: 1.2108. Defense Budget: $958,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 21,525. Total Aircraft Strength: 73. Tanks: 72. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 574. Total Naval Assets: 28. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Nikola Solic/Reuters
71. Afghanistan (69). Power Index: 1.2023. Defense Budget: $11,500,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 200,000. Total Aircraft Strength: 2014. Tanks: 0. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 9,542. Total Naval Assets: 0. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
70. Sudan (71). Power Index: 1.1592. Defense Budget: $2,470,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 282,150. Total Aircraft Strength: 186. Tanks: 360. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 415. Total Naval Assets: 18. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Ebrahim Hamid/AFP
69. Ecuador (70). Power Index: 1.1531. Defense Budget: $2,400,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 158,500. Total Aircraft Strength: 123. Tanks: 232. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 385. Total Naval Assets: 19. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 1. Reuters
68. Belgium (66). Power Index: 1.0885. Defense Budget: $5,085,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 38,800. Total Aircraft Strength: 164. Tanks: 0. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 545. Total Naval Assets:17. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Yves Herman/Reuters
67. Singapore (65). Power Index: 1.0873. Defense Budget: $9,700,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 504,500. Total Aircraft Strength: 236. Tanks: 196. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 2,192. Total Naval Assets: 40. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Sukree Sukplang/Reuters
66. Yemen (64). Power Index: 1.0434. Defense Budget: $1,440,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 43,500. Total Aircraft Strength: 169. Tanks: 826. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 3,007. Total Naval Assets: 30. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
65. United Arab Emirates (60). Power Index: 1.0157. Defense Budget: $1,375,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 64,000. Total Aircraft Strength: 540. Tanks: 464. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 2,204. Total Naval Assets: 75. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Satish Kumar/Reuters
64. Bolivia (61). Power Index: 1.0045. Defense Budget: $315,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 81,900. Total Aircraft Strength: 72. Tanks: 54. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 137. Total Naval Assets: 173. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 0. Gaston Brito/Reuters
63. Portugal (62). Power Index: 1.0035. Defense Budget: $3,800,000,000. Total Military Personnel: 268,500. Total Aircraft Strength: 93. Tanks: 133. Armored Fighting Vehicles: 1,080. Total Naval Assets: 41. Aircraft Carriers: 0. Submarines: 2. Armend Nimani/AFP

Every year, Global Firepower releases its list of the most powerful military forces in the world. America predictably tops the list again in 2018, and the rest of the top five is unchanged from last year.

But things get more interesting further down the list. Both North and South Korea have moved several places up the list since last year, likely to do with recent military escalations in the region. It remains to be seen if the diplomatic moves towards denuclearization will affect their ranking in next year’s list.

Another big mover on the list is Iran. The nation has hit the news in recent months, with the military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying he is prepared for war with the U.S. and Israel. Iran’s new ranking higher up the list indicates he's been putting his money where his mouth is.

A few countries have slipped down the list, but this doesn't necessarily mean Malaysia, Chile and Austria have less powerful militaries than last year. Countries' rankings are not just based on the total number of weapons they have. Global Firepower also takes into account geographical and diplomatic factors, financial stability, and ability to call on powerful allies.

Another country that has fallen down the list is Ethiopia, amid the signing of a declaration to end a years-long military stand-off with neighboring Eritrea. Diplomatic relations broke off after a two-year war ended in 2000, but the countries are now ready to re-establish ties.

Global Firepower has given each country a Power Index score (the lower the better), determined by considering more than 50 elements of military strength, including manpower available and diversity of weapons.

Along with the Power Index score we’ve included each nation’s position last year, as well as its defense budget, military personnel numbers, and numbers of aircraft, tanks, submarines and more, to give a more comprehensive idea of each country’s military strengths and weaknesses.