The Military Tech of the World’s Most ‘Powerful’ Nations

By Jeffery R. Barnett, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffery R. Barnett, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The perceived Russian invasion on Crimea, the seemingly unending war in the Middle East, and the brewing military conflict in Asian waters reported in recent news are worrisome. Although the current situations in these different parts of the world are unlikely to lead to a possible World War III, it may be worth examining the military capabilities of the different powerful nations of the world—especially their military tech.

For decades, the United States has led the world when it comes to military capabilities. Has this changed with China’s rise? What changes in the military tech of different countries in particular have happened over the past decades? These are some of the questions the following ranking of world military tech would like to answer. The list does not take nuclear weapons into account.

1. United States

The world’s largest economy also has the world’s most powerful military force. The country consistently tops global military power rankings and is known for its advanced military technologies. There have been rumors that the US is involved in weather modification experiments to use weather control for warfare purposes, something that allegedly led to the formation of last year’s immensely devastating typhoon Haiyan. The United States is also easily associated with drones. Drone technology appears to be a US military staple. In 2011, the US Air Force launched a robotic space vehicle. Earlier this year, the US Navy reported to have developed the technology to convert seawater into fuel. There are several other technological advancements the US military introduced to the world and it will take more than just one long post to enumerate a good number of them.

2. Russia

Russia has never ceased to be considered as one of the world’s top military powers. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this large country has retained its military might. Recently, elite Russian troops displayed a new arsenal of body armor, armor-piercing weapons, collar radios, and other gear that are aimed at giving Russian forces a tactical advantage. Russia maintains land systems and aircraft numbering several thousands. In terms of naval strength, Russia has more than 60 submarines, over 60 coastal craft, 1 aircraft carrier, 4 frigates, 13 destroyers, and 74 corvettes. The country is also trying to match the drone technology of other leading military powers.

3. China

China’s rise to becoming a global economic powerhouse also enabled it to upgrade its military. Now, some are saying the United States is losing its military edge over China. This is hardly a surprise considering China’s huge population and generous military spending. In the first month of 2014, China revealed new weapons, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier and the J-15 fighter that carried a new type of pod that enables in-flight refueling. In April this year, the Chinese president announced intentions for the military use of space. In May, leading scholars and researchers in China released a report suggesting the country’s deployment of fixed ocean floor acoustic array systems for anti-submarine warfare. China’s rapid economic rise is mirrored by its military advancement.

4. India

India is not easily viewed as a global superpower but it is in fact one of the most militarily powerful nations of the world.  It is even considered as the largest importer of military goods. The country has more than 3,500 tanks, over 6,000 towed artillery, more than 1,700 aircraft, 2 aircraft carriers, 15 frigates, 11 destroyers, 17 submarines, and 32 coastal defense craft. Earlier this year, it was reported that India is set to become the first country since WWII to purchase military aircraft from Japan. The aircraft in question is an amphibious aircraft from ShinMaywa Industries.

By LH Wong from Singapore, Singapore (_MG_7076  Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By LH Wong from Singapore, Singapore (_MG_7076 Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

5. United Kingdom

The UK was once a major colonizer and is an active NATO member so knowing that it has one of the world’s leading military forces shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gizmodo has an interesting article about the UK’s advanced and impressive military machines. These include the AI-equipped supersonic stealth BAE Taranis UAV, the sniper rifle that holds the world record for the longest-distance sniper kill, the fully digital UK Apache attack helicopter, the Challenger II Tank that holds the world record for the longest distance tank kill, and the Type 45 air defense destroyer capable of shooting down small objects moving at Mach 3 120 km away.

6. France

The French nowadays are rarely associated with overwhelming modern military might but it remains to be one of the world’s strongest. It has hundreds of tanks, thousands of armored fighting vehicles, over 1,200 aircraft, 1 aircraft carrier, 22 frigates, 14 coastal defense craft, 10 submarines, and 18 mine warfare equipment.

7. Germany

Of course, a list of the world’s nations with the strongest military forces would be incomplete without Germany. Unlike Japan, Germany did not resort to adopting a pacifist constitution. It has continued operating and upgrading its military-related activities, even supplying many of the equipment and technologies the Chinese are currently enjoying. As a reminder of the German military might, in 2013 a German company developed and demonstrated a military laser capable of destroying targets one kilometer away.

8. Turkey

With over 3,600 tanks, more than 8,500 armored fighting vehicles, thousands of towed artillery, hundreds of military aircraft, 16 frigates, 8 corvettes, 14 submarines, and 50 coastal defense craft, Turkey certainly has one of the world’s toughest military capabilities. Its formidable military force has matured and appears to be causing a stir, with some praising it as a rising star and others becoming wary of its actions as a NATO ally.

9. South Korea

The size of this Asian country to the south of China belies its military might. The country has thousands of tanks and armored fighting vehicles, around 250 multiple-launch rocket systems, hundreds of aircraft including 77 attack helicopters, 10 frigates, 12 destroyers, 21 corvettes, 14 submarines, and 84 coastal defense craft.

10. Japan

Limited by its pacifist constitution, Japan does not figure near the top of this list despite being the world’s third largest economy. Things may change in the future as Japan gears up to have a more active military power in response to China’s growing aggression. Nevertheless, Japan’s military tech is still something other countries would like to emulate. The country has more than 700 tanks, over 3000 armored fighting vehicles, and nearly 100 multiple-launch rocket systems. Its air power is composed of over 1,500 aircraft with nearly 300 fighters or interceptors, close to 500 transport aircraft, and over 150 attack helicopters. Japan’s naval defense is also relatively impressive, having over 40 destroyers, 16 submarines, and 6 coastal defense craft. Japan’s submarine technology, in particular, is perceived to be top-of-the-line as evidenced by Australia’s eagerness to sign a pact with Japan for a joint submarine venture.

By Imer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Imer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Technology is doubtlessly a major component in every nation’s military power. It has the potential to initiate or suppress aggression. It can take or defend lives. It can provide a blanket of protection or send a veil of destruction. Hopefully, these powerful nations mentioned above learn to use technology for the benefit of everyone instead of oppressing the weak and taking advantage of those who are incapable of asserting their rights and defending themselves.