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Military Equipment

INTRODUCTION

This page looks at military equipment of the most populated countries in the world. The 3 things of equipment looked at are naval tonnage, number of aircraft and number of combat tanks. Naval tonnage is the total weight of all the ships in a country's navy irrespective of type. This measure better reflects the strength of a navy that number of ships. It also better correlates with overall military strength and overall military spending more than number of combat tanks or number of aircraft which a country possesses. 

Charts

1. Military Aircraft by Subdivision of World

2. Military Aircraft Per Million Inhabitants by Subdivision of World

3. Naval Tonnage for Countries with 10 Biggest GDP (PPP)

4. Naval Tonnage Per Capita for Countries with 10 Biggest GDP (PPP)

5. Combat Tanks and Military Aircraft for Countries with 100 Millions + Inhabitants

6. Combat Tanks Per Million Inhabitants for Countries with 10 Biggest GDP (PPP)

7. Military Aircraft Per Million Inhabitants for Countries with 10 Biggest GDP (PPP)

8. Artillery by Type for Countries with 10 Biggest GDP (PPP)

9. Aircraft Production of Major Powers in WW2 by Year

Table

10. Total and Population Adjusted Number of Aircraft, Combat Tanks & Naval Tonnage for 25 Largest Countries

The English speaking countries have by far the largest share of military aircraft and also the most when adjusted for population. This is overwhelmingly due to the United States. Likewise, the large share which Eastern Europe and Former Soviet is due to Russia. This is a reflection of legacy of cold war where 2 superpowers competed for supremacy.

Despite not being a major manufacturer of aircraft, the middle east and north Africa region is 3rd in per capita terms, slightly ahead of mainland western Europe. This reflects the militarisation resulting from tensions in the region.

Conversely, despite being a major region for manufacture of advanced military aircraft, mainland western Europe is far less militarised than the United States. This is in large part due to the membership of NATO of most countries in the region which gives them American protection, an issue which often results in accusations of "not doing their part" by Americans. 

Note: The subdivisions for the charts above are more culturally and ethnically defined than politically defined which is why the mostly Slavic countries of Eastern Europe who are not aligned to Russia anymore and nonetheless grouped in the category "Eastern Europe and Former Soviet". Individual country comparisons can be see below.

The USA has over 3 times the naval tonnage of the next largest country, Russia. US became the dominant naval power during WW2 surpassing the British Royal Navy. Even in per capita terms, the USA is the leading country by a comfortable margin.

 

After the USA, Russia and China have very similar naval tonnage to each other. The Russian Federation is the heir to the Soviet Union and inherited most of it's military equipment from their superpower predecessor. With 20 aircraft carriers, it has over 4 times more than the next highest country. 

 

The Soviet Union, and Russia afterwards, traditionally focused on land strength rather than naval strength. China has only recently emerged as a major military power. It has yet to develop a navy which it's economic size, manufacturing and technological capacity merits. It will surely develop a much stronger navy in coming years and decades. The UK, which for much of history had the strongest navy in the world, has the 3rd biggest naval tonnage per capita and the 5th biggest in total naval tonnage.

 

Japan, despite it's post WW2 pacifist constitution, has a formidable navy with the 4th highest naval tonnage in the world. It has the 2nd highest number of destroyers after the USA and joint 2nd highest number of aircraft carriers with France after the USA.

The USS Nimitz is an aircraft carrier the United States Navy. Weighing over 100,000 long tons, it is commonly described as a supercarrier. 

Photo by U.S. Navy Photographers Mate 3rd Class Elizabeth Thompson

Russia has considerably more combat tanks than any other country. It has inherited this from the Soviet Union. This reflects it's large land mass and the Soviet belief view that it's main threats originate from it's western land border from the US dominated NATO alliance. In per capita terms too, Russia is well ahead of everyone else. The main battle tanks of the Russian army is the T-72. In a very distant 2nd and 3rd are China and USA. Due to the location of the USA, with oceans between itself and other military powers, it doesn't need a huge arsenal of combat tanks. The main battle tank of the US army is the M1 Abrams. In 4th place is Egypt who are 2nd in per capita terms. Egypt's relatively large arsenal of tanks were originally purchased from the Soviet Union, then the USA and recently Russia. The most common tanks in the Egyptian army are the US made M1 Abrams and the M60. 3rd and 4th in per capita number of tanks are Turkey and Iran. The build-up of tanks by countries in and around the middle east reflects ongoing tensions in the region. Western countries have not kept very large amount of combat tanks with only 1 of the top 14 being western countries, instead focussing in aerial and naval strength.

The T-72 is the main battle tank of the Russian Ground Forces.

Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The USA also leads by a considerable margin when it comes to number of military aircraft with over 3 times the number of for the next country, Russia. The multirole F-16 Fighting Falcon is the most common combat aircraft in the US air force. The USA and Russia are also first and second in per capita terms. Russia's aircraft strength, as with it's naval strength, is also mainly inherited from the Soviet Union. France has the 3rd most military aircraft per capita. Aircraft emerged as crucial to warfare during the second world war and remain central to military strength today.

The multirole F-16 Fighting Falcon is main combat aircraft of the US Air Force. 

Photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway

Aircraft played a decisive role in World War 2, far more so than in World War 1. Due to their far greater industrial capacity, the Allies could produce significantly more aircraft than the Axis. Even in the early years of the war, the Allies had a sizeable advantage. The United States was by far the largest producer of aircraft over the course of the conflict. In 1943, it was producing the majority of Allied aircraft. In 1945, USA produced more aircraft than all other countries (Allies and Axis) combined. Germany and Japan accounted for basically all of Axis aircraft production with Italy being a minor contributor. France produced relatively little for the Allies mainly due to their early defeat.

10. Total and Population Adjusted Number of Aircraft, Combat Tanks & Naval Tonnage for 25 Largest Countries
Country
Number of Aircraft
Navy Tonnage (Tons)
Number of Combat Tanks
Aircraft per million people
Naval Tonnage per million people (Tons)
Combat Tanks per million people
China
3035
1032225
7716
2.2
745
5.6
India
2185
295734
4426
1.6
221
3.3
USA
13362
3509640
5884
41
10775
18.1
Indonesia
478
102664
418
1.8
389
1.6
Brazil
723
80932
469
3.5
387
2.2
Pakistan
1281
42696
2182
6.5
217
11.1
Nigeria
124
148
0.6
0.8
Bangladesh
173
17303
534
1.1
105
3.2
Russia
3914
1033480
20300
27.1
7152
140.5
Mexico
478
22960
0
3.7
178
0
Japan
1508
470900
679
11.9
3714
5.4
Ethiopia
80
800
0.8
7.6
Philippines
158
45
1.5
0.4
Egypt
1132
98300
4946
11.6
1008
50.7
Vietnam
283
43820
1545
3
459
16.2
Germany
714
71140
432
8.6
860
5.2
DR Congo
40
200
0.5
2.5
Iran
505
21435
1650
6.2
264
20.3
Turkey
1056
122908
2446
13.1
1522
30.3
Thailand
565
40376
737
8.2
585
10.7
France
1262
295300
406
18.8
4400
6
U.K.
832
353020
227
12.6
5347
3.4
Italy
828
173860
200
13.7
2871
3.3
Tanzania
31
30
0.5
0.5
South Africa
209
19159
195
3.7
338
3.4
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