10 Strongest Military Forces in the Middle East

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10 Strongest Military Forces in the Middle East

The Middle East is the most disturbed region in the world according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. This is not unexpected going by the unrest in Syria, Arab spring episodes, recurring violence in Israel and its Palestinian neighborhood, infrequent conflicts in Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on. These conflicts have necessitated the need for heavy military investment by Middle East governments. In this article, we’ve compiled the list of the 10 strongest military forces in the middle east based on the ranking by the Global Firepower (GFP) which considered the amount of money spent on defense, quality of training and weapons, number of standby military officers for emergencies and so on. Here are the ten most powerful countries in the Middle East.

1. Turkey

Turkey has the strongest military force in the middle east with a GFP score of 0.2216 (the lower, the better, 0.0000 being perfect). Ranked 9th in the world, Turkey has about 350,000 active military personnel with military ties with countries like Qatar and Somalia where its troops are based. Its manpower also includes about 35 million people who are fit for service, 710,000 total military personnel and reserved personnel of about 360,000. With a defense budget of about $10 billion for 2018, Turkey's air power consists of 1,056 aircrafts comprising fighter, attack, transport and trainer planes including helicopters. Its army strength is made up of 2,446 combat tanks, 9,031 armored vehicles, 1,108 self-propelled artillery, 872 towed artillery and 418 rocket launchers. Its total naval asset is about 200 in number including frigates, corvettes, submarines, patrol crafts and marine warfare vessels.

Egyptian military

2. Egypt


Egypt has the second strongest military force in the area with a 2018 defense budget of about $4 billion. It has a GFP score of 0.2751 and ranks 12th in the world. With a population of 97 million people, it has a military manpower of 1,329,250 comprising 454,250 active and 875,000 reserved personnel. It has a total of about 1,000 aircrafts which includes fighter jets, transport aircrafts, helicopters and trainer planes. Egypt's army strength is based on 4,946 combat tanks, 15,695 armored vehicles, 2,189 towed artillery and 1,216 rocket projectors. Talking about its naval strength, Egypt has a total of 319 assets and some of them are airline carriers, frigates, corvettes, submarines, mine warfare vessels and patrol crafts.

Iranian military
3. Iran

Iran is the third strongest military force in the region with a global ranking of 13 and GFP score of 0.3131. Iran's defense budget for 2018 is $6.3 billion with a purchasing power parity of $1.6 trillion. Its total manpower is about 900,000 which consist of about 500,000 active and 400,000 reserve employees. Iran has about 500 military aircraft which include fighter, transport and trainer jets, with 145 helicopters. The army strength is fortified with 1,650 combatant tanks, 2,215 armored vehicles, 2,188 towed artillery and 1,533 rocket launchers. Iran can boast of 398 naval assets including frigates, corvettes, submarines, patrol crafts and mine warfare vessels.

Israel military

4. Israel

Sitting in the fourth position is Israel with a GFP score of 0.3444 and global ranking of 16. With many antagonistic neighbors to cope with, Israel gives top priority to its military with a defense budget of $20 billion in 2018. It has a total military manpower of 615,000 employees with 170,000 as active employees while 445,000 are reserved employees. Israel can boast of a total aircraft force of 596 airplanes which include fighter, transport and trainer aircraft, as well as attack helicopters. Its army strength is boosted by about 3,000 combat tanks, 10,000 armored vehicles, many towed artillery and rocket launchers. The Israeli navy has more than 60 war gadgets including 6 submarines, 3 corvettes, and 32 patrol crafts.

Algerian military

5. Algeria

Algeria occupies the 23rd position in GFP's global ranking with 0.4296 scores. It plans to spend about $10 billion on defense in 2018 and has a total military manpower of 792,350 in which 520,000 employees are active while about 270,000 are reserved. Algeria has an aircraft strength of 528 that includes fighter, transport and trainer airplanes with attack helicopters.

Saudi Arabian military

6. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia scores 0.4636 with GFP with a ranking of 26 in the world and thus becoming the sixth strongest military force in the region. Its annual defense budget for 2018 is about $56 billion which is the highest in the region. Riyadh's military manpower comprises 231,000 active and 25,000 reserved employees.

Iraqi military

7. Iraq

Iraq is ranked 47th in the world and has a score of 0.8234 to come 7th in the region. Its defense budget for 2018 is about $6 billion with a manpower strength of 318,000, comprising 168,000 active and 150,000 reserved employees. Iraq has a total aircraft strength of 289 comprising fighter, attack, transport and trainer jets, including 162 helicopters. In addition, there are 389 combat tanks, about 13,000 armored tanks, 30 projectors and so on.

Syrian military

8. Syria

Despite the war in Syria, it still occupies the 8th position in the region with a GFP score of 0.8276 and ranking of 49. With a defense budget of $1.872 billion and a total military personnel of 304,000, Syria is definitely one of the strongest military forces in the region. There are 154,000 active military employees in Syria while 150,000 are on reserve.

Morocco military

9. Morocco

Morroco is ranked as number 55 in the world by GFP with a score of 0.9125. Its defense budget for 2018 is $3.4 billion and can boast of 198,000 active military men and 175,000 reserved men. In its arsenal are 56 fighter jets, 89 trainer planes, 130 helicopters, 1,276 combatant tanks, 2,348 armored vehicles, just to mention a few.

UAE military

10. United Arab Emirates

Even though United Arab Emirates' military manpower is very small, it is still able to make the list of top ten strongest military forces in the middle east. It is ranked 65 by GFP with a score of 1.0157. Planning to spend a whopping $14.375 billion on defense in 2018 to emerge as the third biggest spender in the region. It has 64,000 active military employees and it does not have any reserved military manpower. In its arsenal are 97 fighter jets, 175 transport aircraft, 206 helicopters, 2,204 armored vehicles, 54 rocket launchers and so on.

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