Most Powerful European Militaries  – Military / Army Comparison in 2019
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Most Powerful European Militaries – Military / Army Comparison in 2019


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all your online accounts secure! For centuries Europe has been a global military
juggernaut, and throughout the 15th and 20th centuries its armies and navies dominated
the world. Yet after two disastrous world wars, the European
powers saw their former empires collapse, and along with them much of their global clout. Today, Europe remains amongst the preeminent
military powers, but no European nation can even come close to matching their former might. Today we’re going to take a look at the top
ten military powers in Europe, and figure out who is still top dog and who’s at the
bottom of the pack. 10- Czechia Czechia, or the Czech Republic, was one of
the first nations to throw off the yoke of the Soviet Union. Through the peaceful “Velvet Revolution”,
Czechoslovakia overthrew communism and once more became a liberal democracy in November
1989. Four years later the nation would split into
two countries- the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and by 2006 the Czech Republic was recognized
by the World Bank as a “developed country”. A small nation, Czechia’s military is split
into the Czech land forces and the Czech Air Force, with smaller specialized units falling
somewhere in between the two. In 1999 Czechia became part of NATO, and its
soldiers have seen combat action in Afghanistan, Mali, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, egypt,
Israel and Somalia. After ending compulsory service in 2004, Czechia
has focused on a modernization initiative that sees it replacing all of its former Soviet-era
equipment, and by 2027 should see it field a completely modernized force. Today, Czechia’s military stands at 25,000
active-duty personnel, and have an air force strength of 100 aircraft, to include 12 fighters
and 28 attack aircraft. While small in number, its air force can count
on the JAS 39 Gripen multi-role fighter, an extremely capable aircraft manufactured by
Sweden. On the ground Czechia fields 116 tanks and
437 armored fighting vehicles, supported by 86 self-propelled artillery and 85 towed artillery. Unfortunately Czechia’s tank forces are made
up exclusively of Soviet-built T-72s , and as part of a 4.5 billion dollar modernization
initiative the Czech Republic is looking at various tank models, to include the German
Leopard and the American Abrams to replace its aging fleet. A lack of multiple launch rocket systems however
leaves Czech ground forces vulnerable in either offensive or defensive operations, as MLRS’s
are capable of pumping out a huge volume of fire in a very short time compared to traditional
artillery, which limits how much time enemy units have to get under cover. Small but formidable, Czechia currently takes
the number 10 spot in top 10 european powers. 9- Ukraine Despite a civil war lasting since 2014, Ukraine
still tops the list of top european military powers and comes in at the number 9 spot. Currently Ukrainian military forces number
at 1.2 million, with 205,000 active duty forces and 1 million reservists, whom have been continously
rotated in and out of active duty since the start of hostilities against the separatist
forces of Donetsk and Luhansk. Facing off against an insurgency that is financially
and materially backed up by Russia, Ukraine military forces have been facing an onslaught
of modern Russian-made equipment for half a decade, forcing the government to reinvigorate
its defense spending. At the start of the conflict, Ukraine’s military
was in shambles, having sold off most of its Soviet-era military equipment without replacing
it, and with a military that was poorly trained and with extremely poor morale. With the aid of American and NATO military
advisors though, Ukraine’s army has slowly been shaping up into a professional military
force. The United States in particular has been providing
large amounts of aid to Ukraine in the forms of military hardware, providing them with
hundreds of anti-tank and surface-to-air missile systems. Against the rebel forces however these are
largely useless, as the rebels do not operate tanks nor have an air force- but the stockpile
of modern anti-tank and anti-air missile systems has ensured that Ukraine could exact a very
heavy toll on Russia should it choose to interfere again. With a limited budget, Ukraine is nonetheless
looking to modernize its 800 Soviet-era BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and has a domestic
modernization program to evolve the Soviet made BMP-1. While operating aging T-84 and T-80 main battle
tanks, Ukraine has little reason to seek an upgrade to its tank fleet as the urban nature
of their conflict against the Russian-backed separatists does not favor the use of battle
tanks. Believed to be weak by Russia when it backed
separatist forces in 2014, Ukraine has nonetheless proven that it has a resilient military, and
with the aid of the United States and other NATO nations, looks set to become a very experienced
and professional force that will give Russian second thought about attempting to force the
nation back into its soviet-era sphere of influence. 8- Greece Greece is one of NATO’s most important military
powers, the nation’s location along the Mediterranean making it a strategic linchpin in controlling
naval activities in the region. While currently undergoing serious economic
troubles, Greece nonetheless is one of the few NATO allies who is currently meeting the
alliance’s commitment for all nations to fund their militaries at a level of at least 2%
of GDP. Greece is also one of the United States closest
allies, with their military forces partaking in countless exercises together and operating
side by side everywhere from Kosovo to Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently the Greek military numbers at 360,500,
with 140,000 active duty personnel and 220,500 reservists. Unfortunately Greece continues the practice
of compulsory military service, which results in low personnel retention rates and low morale
overall. Ranked as the 20th most powerful air force
in the world, Greece fields a total of 187 fighters, 187 attack aircraft, and 29 attack
helicopters. Most of its air force is made up of American-made
F-16s, and recently Greece signed an agreement with the US to modernize its fleet of F-16s
with modern electronics and upgraded radar. Currently mulling purchasing the F-35, Greece
is looking to balance a need to field a modern military with its current economic situation. 7- Poland Poland is no stranger to conflict, and it
has historically been the battleground for any war between western and eastern european
powers. Today though, Poland is keenly aware of its
vulnerability to Russian aggression, thanks to the Suwalki Gap- a 65 mile wide strip of
territory that links Lithuania and Baltic NATO allies with the rest of the alliance. Thought of as the modern ‘Fulda Gap’, a strip
of territory in Germany where NATO expected massed Soviet forces to stream through and
into Western Europe, Poland has taken its defensive commitments to the alliance quite
seriously, and today is one of the few members to meet or exceed the 2% of GDP spending goal. Today Poland fields a military of 105,000
active duty personnel, with a military geared at slowing down and delaying a Russian advance
into western Europe. A lifeline between the rest of NATO and the
Baltics, Poland understands all too well that it will be the most strategically important
battleground in any conflict against Russia. Thus Poland has engaged in an aggressive modernization
program, with aims to replace its aging and very troubled fleet of Mig-29s with 5th generation
fighters- likely the F-35. The Polish military has also prioritized the
acquisition of anti-air missile systems and signed a multi-billion dollar contract with
US defense manufacturer Raytheon to supply it with the Patriot missile system. With big acquisitions in new submarines, short-range
anti-air missiles, and a new main battle tank, Poland is set to become one of NATO’s most
important military allies. 6- Once threatening to wipe out England’s
independence, Spain’s days as a global superpower are far in the past, yet today it remains
one of the most formidable militaries in the world. Spain’s military numbers at 139,500, with
124,000 active-duty personnel and 15,500 reservists. Despite its small numbers though, Spain overwhelmingly
fields modern military equipment, and maintains one of Europe’s most formidable navies. Its air force is equipped with modern Eurofighters
and American-made F-18 Hornets, which also operate from its one active aircraft carrier. Despite intense pressure from the rest of
europe, Spain is also looking to possibly acquire the F-35 over European-made alternatives. With 327 Leopard 2 and Leopard 2E tanks, Spain’s
ground forces are certainly to be feared, though its relative lack of attack helicopters
would leave the bulk of anti-armor operations to its infantry and armored forces. Despite its military strength though, Spain
has been increasingly criticized by other NATO allies for actually decreasing spending
on its military relative to its GDP, falling from 1.23% of GDP in 2014 to .93% of GDP in
2018. Spain’s economic booms have not been reflected
in its military expenditures, a fact that the US in particular has been very quick to
point out. 5- Italy Italy finds itself struggling to hold on to
its number five spot as it faces economic turmoil and a government that seems to have
no clear vision on the future of its armed forces. Plagued for years by a lack of planning, legislature
meant to ensure that military funding is set in advance and binding for at minimum three
year periods, failed to be passed and thus the Italian military finds itself in the same
economic lurch it has been in for nearly a decade. Currently Italy fails to meet its 2% of GDP
spending requirement by a wide margin, and the figure continues to decrease. To make matters worse, the defense budget
is set on a yearly basis, with predicted future figures for the following years which are
in no way binding- this makes the acquisition of big-ticket items such as new fighters,
tanks, and other expensive weapon systems all but impossible. Despite budget woes, Italy is still considered
the preeminent Mediterranean naval power, and its fleet of 5 aircraft carriers, 12 frigates,
4 destroyers, and 8 submarines ensure that NATO interests are very safely guarded in
the Mediterranean. It’s air force is also considerable, with
94 fighters, 182 attack aircraft and 59 attack helicopters. As a partner in the F-35 program, Italy will
soon be upgrading its combat aircraft with the F-35 Lightning II, though it will retain
a sizable fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons. 4- Germany After two disastrous world wars, Germany drastically
scaled back its military ambitions. Though during the Cold War the West German
Bundeswehr was an extremely capable and well-equipped force, immediately after reunification its
military forces were cut back to the bare minimum. Where once Germany was a military juggernaut
that threatened world domination- twice- today Germany is a much more reserved military power,
which has purposefully made it a point to limit its ability to operate in an expeditionary
matter. Focused more on defense of itself and Europe,
Germany today fields a military of 208,641- with 178,641 active-duty personnel and 30,000
reservists. The German Air Force is particularly troubled-
though it fields very capable aircraft it is crippled with logistical issues and a shortage
of pilots. A recent internal study found that German
air forces could not be reliably called upon to join ongoing NATO operations in case of
Russian aggression. Similar problems plague the German navy, and
though its defense industry creates some of the most capable conventional submarines in
the world, its own fleet is also experiencing logistical difficulties- mostly due to bureaucratic
problems. On the ground however Germany operates hundreds
of Leopard 2 tanks, widely considered one of- if not the- best battle tank in the world. 3- Great Britain It was once said that the sun never set on
the British empire, thanks to the vast amounts of territory it held all around the world. Sadly after the second world war, British
military might waxed precipitously, and though it remains a formidable military power, it
is also an extremely fragile one. That is thanks in large part to the fact that
the once legendary British military-industrial complex is but a sliver of its former self,
and today Britain must partner either with the US or other European allies in order to
develop and procure new military hardware. For centuries considered the greatest of naval
powers, today Britain must seek the help of the US in order to build its new Astute-class
submarines. Despite its troubles though Britain remains
a formidable military power, though it has recently slipped from the second most powerful
military in Europe, to third. Its air forces are in great shape, and the
RAF will soon be flying the F-35. On the ground, Britain continues to operate
the Challenger 2 main battle tank, without a doubt the best defended battle tank in the
world- and where its defense industry has atrophied severely, Britain nonetheless continues
to develop some of the most advanced vehicle armor plating materials in the world. Unfortunately the once mighty British navy
is but a ghost of its former self, and its fleet of 19 surface combat ships is routinely
forced to mothball individual vessels for months at a time due to a lack of personnel. To make matters worse, the launching of two
new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are threatening to cannibalize the rest of
their surface fleet due to the expense of the vessels. 2- France Power in Europe has traditionally swung back
and forth between France and Great Britain, but today that pendulum is firmly in France’s
favor. While the British defense industry has atrophied
and largely wasted away, France maintains a very strong and independent military industrial
base. Its defense companies produce some of the
world’s best fighter aircraft, submarines, and tanks. Most notably, while Britain depends on the
US to develop and maintain its nuclear arsenal, France has a completely independent air and
land-based nuclear deterrent using French missiles with French warheads. While Britain’s navy finds itself in increasingly
perilous waters, the French navy has in recent years become the dominant naval force in Europe,
with a very strong expeditionary capability that allows it to operate far from friendly
shores. Its forces include one nuclear carrier with
three conventional, smaller, carriers, 11 frigates, 12 destroyers, and 10 submarines. In the air the French air force operates 273
fighter and strike aircraft, along with 56 attack helicopters, and all modern and extremely
capable models. On the ground France operates 406 main battle
tanks, and a fleet of 6300 armored fighting vehicles that give its infantry incredible
mobility and protection in a modern battlefield. With an eye to the future, France recently
established a ‘Red Team’ of science fiction writers who’s job is to hypothesize future
war scenarios that the French military may one day face, proven that the French military
is set to dominate Europe not just today, but well into the future. 1- Russia Russia once operated the largest military
force in world history, with hordes of tanks and armored vehicles so vast that NATO military
planners feared that war with the Soviet Union would be unwinnable without the use of tactical
nuclear weapons. For decades the Soviet military industrial
complex delivered cutting edge military technologies, and just years before the end of the Cold
War a CIA study showed that though at the time the US led the Soviet Union in total
areas of scientific superiority, the Soviet Union would not just catch up, but exceed
the US within a decade. Sadly the mighty military industrial complex
of the Soviet Union collapsed into ashes after the dissolution of the communist regime. Despite this, Russia continues to develop
cutting edge military technologies, proving that its scientists are still amongst the
world’s best- though unfortunately many times those breakthrough military technologies are
left on the drawing board due to budget woes. Russia’s legendary 5th-generation Sukhoi Su-57
is one such example, with development on the fighter officially postponed indefinitely
due to an inability to finance its procurement. The T-14 Armata tank is another casualty of
Russia’s budget shortfalls, and despite being widely considered the world’s first true next-generation
tank, planned purchases of 2000 by 2020 fell to just 100, and then to the complete cancellation
of the main production run. Despite its budget woes, Russia maintains
the second most formidable military in the world. Plagued by the embarrassingly poor performance
of its forces against Chechnyan rebels and Georgian military forces in 2006, Russia has
proven that it has overcome strategic and operational shortcomings in the years since. Today Russia may be a much-maligned state
due to its actions on the world stage, but none doubt that it still packs a considerable
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10% off a premium subscription today! Who do you think will be Europe’s top military
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