Countries With the Most Military Firepower

It has been over a year since Russia’s forces rolled into Ukraine, and despite mounting losses, the war seems far from over. One would think Moscow would have made more of an impact by now. After all, the Russian armed forces is considered one of the most powerful militaries on the planet. It surpasses Ukraine several times over in military budget and personnel. (Also see, comparing Russian and Ukrainian weapon and vehicle losses in the war so far.)

Ukraine, however, is protecting its home and has received considerable aid from allies, many of them among the world’s military powers.

To determine the 20 countries with the strongest military might, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2023 Military Strength Ranking from Global Firepower, an annually updated defense-related statistics website with information on 145 countries. Global Firepower ranked 145 countries based on their PowerIndex, a composite of over 60 measures in categories such as military might, financials, logistical capability, and geography. The smaller the PowerIndex value the more powerful a nation’s theoretical conventional fighting capability is. 

The United States ranks as the top military power and is notable not only for its extensive defense budget but also for its technologically advanced weaponry and global strike capabilities. The U.S. maintains a large and well-equipped armed force, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. 

Another notable name on the list is Russia, which holds the second position. Russia has built upon its Soviet-era military legacy and made significant strides in modernizing its armed forces. Moscow’s military might is evident in its extensive land power and technologically advanced arsenal, even compared against the United States. Ukraine ranks at No. 15.

Rounding out the top three is China, which has been investing heavily in its military to modernize it. As the third most potent military in the world, the People’s Liberation Army is focused on expanding its capabilities both regionally and beyond. In recent years, expanding naval power with new aircraft carriers has been a prime directive. 

The world’s strongest militaries possess diverse capabilities and strengths but also have some commonalities. Notably, countries towards the top of this have much larger military budgets and also tend to have much larger air forces. (These are the largest air forces in the world.)

Here is a look at the 20 countries with the strongest military might:

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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