South Africa’s military strength vs the rest of the world in 2019

Military website, Global Firepower, has released its military strength ranking for 2019.

More than 137 countries feature on the list, with the ranking utilising more than 55 different factors to determine a given nation’s PowerIndex.

However, the ranking does not simply rely on the total number of weapons available to any one country but rather focuses on weapon diversity within the number totals to provide a better balance of firepower available.

In addition, nuclear weapons are not recognised directly (but receive an indirect score bonus), while geographical factors, logistical flexibility, natural resources and local industry influence the rankings.

The USA was named as the most powerful country in the world in 2019 with 1.28 million active military personnel, 13,398 aircraft, more than 6,200 tanks and a defence budget of $716 billion.

In distant second place is Russia with 1 million active personnel, 4,000 aircraft, 21,932 tanks and a defence budget of $44 billion.

China, India and France round out the top five.

Note: Some vehicles can fall under multiple classifications.

# Country Active Frontline Reserve Combat tanks Air Force Naval Vessels
1 USA 1 281 900 860 000 6 287 13 398 415
2 Russia 1 013 628 2 572 500 21 932 4 078 352
3 China 2 183 000 510 000 13 050 3 187 714
4 India 1 362 500 2 100 000 4 184 2 082 295
5 France 205 000 183 635 406 1 248 118
6 Japan 247 157 56 000 1 004 1 572 131
7 South Korea 625 000 5 202 250 2 654 1 614 166
8 United Kingdom 150 000  83 000 331 811 76
9 Turkey 355 000 380 000 3 200 1 067 194
10 Germany 178 641 30 000 900 613 81

South Africa 

South Africa was ranked as having the 32nd greatest military strength in the world – behind Egypt (12th) and Algeria (27th) in Africa.

According to the ranking, South Africa has 66,300 active personnel and 15,000 reserve personnel.

It also estimates that the country has around 14,175,119 citizens who would be fit-for-service should the country enforce conscription laws.

Notably, the country stands out for its land power but has fallen behind other nations in recent years when it comes to air and naval power.

Air power

South Africa has a total aircraft strength of 206 assets.

This includes:

  • 17 fighter aircraft
  • 17 attack aircraft
  • 23 transport aircraft
  • 67 trainer aircraft
  • 92 total helicopters
  • 12 attack helicopters

Army/Land power

South Africa has a total land strength of 2,888 assets.

This includes:

  • 195 combat tanks
  • 2,500 armoured fighting vehicles
  • 43 self-propelled artillery
  • 100 towed artillery
  • 50 rocket projectors

Naval power

South Africa has a total naval strength of 30 assets.

Notably, the country currently has no aircraft carriers, destroyers or corvette-class vehicles.

This includes:

  • 4 frigates
  • 3 submarines
  • 31 patrol craft
  • 2 mine warfare vessels

Read: At the rate we are going, South Africa will run out of money by 2042: economist

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South Africa’s military strength vs the rest of the world in 2019