World's most powerful countries (2018 List)





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Published on Jul 17, 2009


This list is based on -


The military budgets for China, India and Russia are PPP figures, not nominal figures. These figures were published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Q. What are the possible reasons for Russia being ranked behind China?

A. There could be some factors which give China a slight edge over Russia -

a) China's defense budget is much higher than that of Russia. China's military expansion has been much more rapid and has developed potent weapon systems in recent years.

b) China fields a much larger and well-trained active army.

c) The current financial and industrial capital of China is also much larger than that of Russia. This gives it a greater ability to mass manufacture weapons in case of a war.

d) China fields more destroyers, conventional submarines and frigates than Russia.

e) China has enough nuclear deterrence to negate the effect of Russia's huge nuclear arsenal. In other words, mutually-assured destruction. Therefore, Russia's large nuclear arsenal does not give it a serious edge over China.

f) The current economic problems of Russia severely undermines its ability to fund and sustain a large-scale conflict unlike China.

g) Russia possesses superior technology than China but has not integrated its latest weapons - like MiG-35, Su-35, T-90 and BrahMos - in large numbers.

Q. Why should Russia be ranked ahead of China?

A. Despite some disadvantages, Russia can very well claim itself to be the second most powerful nation because of the following factors -

a) Russian defense industry has far greater experience and knowledge compared to that of China.

b) When it comes to weapons technology, Russia has tremendous lead over China. In fact, most of Chinese weapons are based on Russian designs or use Russian technology. For example, Chinese J-11 is based on Su-27, Chinese J-10 fighter uses Russian engine etc.

c) Russia shares close strategic relations with several nations unlike China. The Russian defense industry continues to receive massive funds from major allies, notably India, which allows it to invest more in military research. For example, the development of MiG-29K and PAK-FA has benefited from Indian funding.

d) Russia's current economic crisis may very well be temporary. The country has the human capital and natural resources to emerge out of its economic difficulties and even in this dire economic scenario, Russia has the resources to militarily challenge any nation.

Q. Why is Pakistan not in the top 10 list?

A. Many would say that given the fact that Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons, the country very well deserves a top 10 slot. However, there are some major reasons why it shouldn't -

a) Pakistan has an extremely low military budget - there are 22 countries which have a higher budget than that of Pakistan.

b) Pakistan faces severe economic problems. It is heavily dependent on annual military aid from USA to fund its military operations. This severely undermines its ability to single-handedly wage a major conventional war.

c) Pakistani Army is increasingly becoming occupied in numerous internal conflicts - from Pakistani Taliban insurgency to unrest in Balochistan. This undermines its ability to deal with external threats (especially those posed by arch-nemesis India).

d) Most of its weapon systems, apart from missiles, are obsolete and technologically inferior. The country's domestic defense industry is very limited. The army's fighting ability is heavily dependent on technological expertise and equipments imported from other countries, especially China.

Q Why is Turkey in the top 10?

A. Some might argue that Turkey should not be in top 10 for the following reasons -

a) The country's fast-growing domestic defense industry would take several years before it could reach the sophistication level of Spanish, Italian and Israeli defense industries. Spain, Italy and Israel were not included in the top 10 list.

b) Turkey's air force is not particularly great. The best in its arsenal is F-16 and several other nations possess this fighter jet.

c) Turkish navy is a laggard too. No aircraft carriers, no major conventional or nuclear submarines, very few stealth frigates and warships.

d) Turkey's weakest point is its lack of missiles. Turkish missiles lack behind in range and accuracy compared to several other powers in the region, particularly Israel and Iran.

e) Turkey's relations with Europe and Israel are increasingly becoming strained. Turkish military benefited immensely from Israeli technology but now that won't be the case anymore because of the chill in the relationship.

g) The country continues to face several challenges - Kurdish insurgency; historically strained ties with Greece and Armenia; etc.


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