Data consistent with the past, shows China closing in to the second spot over Russia.

New Delhi: India has retained the fourth rank in an index that tracks global military power, trailing the US, Russia and China in terms of available firepower, armed forces personnel and diversity of weapons available.

The Global Firepower list – drawn up every year to rank 133 countries – relies only on available military power and does not consider current political or military leaderships of nations.

The data released is consistent with the past few years where India has remained firmly in the top five Global firepower list, followed closely by France and the UK. Pakistan, which in the past did not make it to the top 15, jumped a few points higher last year to reach the number 13 slot, which it has achieved in the latest list as well.

Another prevailing trend has been China’s fast catching up to the number two slot, right behind the US. While at present Russia is ranked number two, China is catching up or has crossed in almost all parameters used to judge the rankings. China now has more aircraft and ships than Russia but lags behind sharply in the number of Tanks in service.

While the rankings consider natural resources, local industry and geographical features as factors to determine military strength, a key factor used is available manpower. Therefore, nations like India and China are ranked high. Nuclear stockpiles are not considered for the ranking.

In terms of airpower, the US surges ahead of the competition, with the data showing it in the possession of over 13,000 aircraft that are assigned for military use. These include fighters, transporters and helicopters. India is shown as having 2102 aircraft in service.

On the Naval side, the rankings show up a surprise with North Korea ranked the highest in terms of total strength of vessels. This may, however, be misleading as most of these are smaller craft that North Korea uses for shore defence like patrol vessels and minesweepers. The data also seems misleading when it comes to India, as it shows the Navy with strength of three aircraft carriers. Even if the INS Jalashwa is considered as a helicopter carrier (which it is not), India has only one aircraft carrier in service – the INS Vikramaditya.

In terms of budget allocations for defence, India emerges as one of the top spenders on the military globally, with Russia ranked far below. The data says India spends $51 billion on defence while Saudi Arabia is ranked one above at $56 billion. Even though a constant complaint within Indian military circles has been on the relatively low allocations for defence in terms of GDP, the global data shows India as a big spender. Pakistan is ranked at number 28, below nations like Norway and Afghanistan.

Here are the details of Indian military strength, as considered by the global index for ranking.

Available Manpower

Data shows India as having some of the most abundant manpower in the world


India is listed as having 676 fighter aircraft and 809 attack aircraft –numbers that seem to be far away from reality.

Army Power

Data shows India with over 4,400 tanks.

Naval Power

Data incorrectly shows India with three aircraft carriers