15 Countries that will have the Most Powerful Militaries by 2030

Different parts of the world have been embroiled in conflict for the last several years now, but the return of war to Europe after decades of peace with Russia invading Ukraine in 2022, has rattled the global defense landscape like no other recent conflict. Defense spending reached an all-time of $2.2 trillion in 2022, as European countries scrapped to rack up their defenses, and allies led by the United States replenished Kyiv’s arsenal. Israel’s recent declaration of war against Hamas in the Gaza strip has also ensured that the defense industry remains in boom....CONTINUE READING

Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) generated $67.6 billion in revenues in 2023, at an uptick of 2.4% from the previous year. Its net earnings have also risen to $6.9 billion from $5.7 billion in 2022. General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD)’s numbers are soaring as well, with the company having registered its highest revenue in history of $42.3 billion, which was 7.3% higher YoY. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII)’s net income in 2023 was also 18% higher compared to 2022.

The United States accounts for about two-fifths of all global military spending, which has ensured its superiority over its rivals in military warfare. The trend is likely to stay given the research and development ongoing in the country on defense technology.

In 2014, the United States Air Force (USAF) launched a highly classified Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Program to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet to replace Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT)’s F-22 Raptor by 2030. The project is expected to cost $16 billion between 2023 and 2028, with the USAF requesting a budget allocation of $1.7 billion for the program in FY24.

Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and Pratt & Whitney – a subsidiary of RTX Corporation (NYSE:RTX) received contracts worth $965 million each in 2022 to work on the NGAD program for a period of ten years.

On the naval front, work is underway in the US on the development of the Columbia-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines to replace the Ohio class operated by the Navy. These new submarines are scheduled to enter service in 2031. General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) has been chosen as the primary contractor for the project, while Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) is the subcontractor.

Both companies are among the major players in the naval industry and have contributed significantly to the strength of the US Navy. General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) is also the maker of the nuclear-powered Virginia-class of submarines which is used by the Navy for a variety of operations, ranging from reconnaissance and anti-shipping to land attacks and special missions. This is the latest class of submersibles operated by the US, and according to a report, each unit costs between $2.8 to $3.2 billion.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) is the primary contractor for building America’s Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers to replace the Nimitz class fleet. The program is to have four carriers, the first of which became operational in 2021. The CVN-7 was procured for a whopping $13.3 billion in 2008. The remaining three warships are scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2025, 2028, and 2032, respectively.

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Methodology

Three weighted metrics have been considered to rank the countries that will have the most powerful militaries by 2030. These include forecasted GDP figures for 2030, projected defense spending in 2030, and countries’ current technological capability levels. The weights are 40%, 40%, and 20% – in order.

Please note that only the were considered for this article. The list was published on Insider Monkey and Yahoo Finance on February 5, 2024.

Data on GDP has been sourced from IMF’s GDP Forecast of 2030 GDP by Country, while the Global Innovation Index 2023 was referred to determine the technological capabilities of countries. For projected defense spending levels, we consulted Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s historical data on countries’ defense expenditure over the years. Their average annual rate of increase or decrease of military spending was determined between 2013 and 2022, and then that percentage was used to project the future value of their defense spending in 2030. Expenditure figures for 2022 were taken as the present value as this is the latest year for which data is available.

It was observed where countries ranked on each metric, and then they were assigned weighted ranking scores. For instance, the Global Innovation Index ranks 132 countries of the world. If a country ranked third, it received a score of (130 divided by 132, times the weight for this metric). This was done for all metrics, and then finally, all weighted scores were summed up to get an overall score. The 15 countries that will have the most powerful militaries by 2030 are ranked in ascending order of their overall scores.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years. Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

Let’s now head over to the list of the most powerful militaries in 2030.

15. Turkiye

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $4.96 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $7.01 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 39

Score: 0.486

Turkiye’s defense spending has declined at a rate of 4.62% per year, from $18.4 billion in 2013 to $10.6 billion in 2022. Based on these trends and the country’s current currency depreciation, it is projected to further dip to about $7 billion by 2030. Despite that, its military remains strong, and boasts the second largest armed force in NATO, with an active manpower of over 355,000 troops. It also has 2,231 battle tanks and over 600 military aircraft, including 157 F-16 fighter jets. On the naval front, Turkiye is equipped with 12 submarines and an aircraft carrier. The country has two military satellites in orbit, and maintains overseas military bases in 3 countries – Northern Cyprus, Qatar, and Somalia.

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14. Spain

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $3.01 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $24.16 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 29

Score: 0.524

Spain’s economy is forecasted to become the 16th largest in the world by 2030 in PPP terms, which will allow Madrid to further increase its military spending and bolster its national defense. In 2022, the country incurred $20.3 billion on defense expenditure. Spain has a manpower of 133,000 active personnel, 327 tanks, 393 military aircraft including fighter jets, one aircraft carrier and 3 submarines. It is also among the most technologically advanced countries in the world.

13. Brazil

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $5.15 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $14.19 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 49

Score: 0.551

Brazil is projected to find a place among countries that will have the most powerful militaries by 2030. It currently boasts the strongest armed forces in Latin America, with the country actively leveraging its economic strength to enhance national security. Brazil has over 520 military aircraft, and its fleet is set to be further bolstered with the inclusion of 40 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden.

12. Canada

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $2.98 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $38.36 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 15

Score: 0.565

Canada’s defense expenditure has grown at an average of 4.5% per annum between 2013 and 2022. Despite the increase in spending, its current expenditure figure of $26.89 billion represents less than 2% of its GDP. The country has vowed to increase spending over the years ahead in order to comply with NATO’s spending expectations for member nations. The Canadian military has 68,000 active military personnel, 395 military aircraft and 74 battle tanks. It is projected to be among countries with the most powerful militaries by 2030.

11. Italy

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $3.76 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $39.45 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 26

Score: 0.619

Italy has one of the most powerful militaries in the world that is highly recognized for its naval strength, as it operates two aircraft carriers and eight submarines. The country also has fleets of over 500 military aircraft and 200 battle tanks. Italy also enjoys presence in space, with at least eight of its satellites in orbit being used for military purposes. Rome spent a whopping $33.49 billion on defense expenditure in 2022.

10. Saudi Arabia

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $3.17 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $90.21 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 48

Score: 0.675

Saudi Arabia became the fifth largest spender on defense in 2022 with a military expenditure of $75 billion. The amount equated to nearly 8% of the kingdom’s GDP, and represented 40% of all defense spending in the Middle East that year. The oil-rich country has been leveraging its economic strength to raise a potent armed forces for the last several years. Its military has an active manpower of 257,000 troops, and is equipped with over 700 aircraft and 1,485 battle tanks. Saudi Arabia also operates 21 overseas military bases.

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9. South Korea

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $3.75 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $61.45 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 10

Score: 0.696

South Korea has the ninth largest standing military in the world with about 600,000 active military personnel. Given its tense ties with North Korea, it is no surprise that Seoul has raised a large armed force. It is the tenth most technologically advanced country in the world, and has leveraged this strength to its advantage domestically in its defense industry. Analysts say its locally-manufactured KF-21 Boramae fighter jet, which had its first flight in 2022, is just as good as any other fourth-generation stealth fighter, and comes equipped with radar evading capabilities similar to fifth-generation fighters.

8. France

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $4.75 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $56.09 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 11

Score: 0.718

Next on our list of countries that will have the most powerful militaries by 2030 is France, which has a manpower of 200,000 active troops, and boasts a large fleet of 658 military aircraft, including fighter jets. The French Navy is also a formidable force, operating a total of 126 units, comprising one aircraft carrier, nine submarines, and 17 frigates, among other vessels. France is one among only nine countries to have nuclear weapons. The country also maintains five overseas military bases.

7. Japan

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $7.47 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $44.28 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 13

Score: 0.791

Japan has one of the strongest armed forces in the world. Its defense expenditure has hovered between the $44-50 billion mark for the last decade, and is forecasted to remain within this range by 2030 as well. Currently, the Japanese military has an active manpower of 247,000 troops, 779 military aircraft, and a potent naval force which is equipped with several warships, including two aircraft carriers. The country also ranks highly on both technological capabilities and cybersecurity.

6. United Kingdom

Forecasted GDP (PPP) for 2030: $4.77 trillion

Projected Defense Spending in 2030: $74.68 billion

Technological Capabilities Rank: 4

Score: 0.792

On sixth spot is the United Kingdom, which may not be the force today that it once was, but is still one of strongest militaries in the world. The country maintains 60 overseas military bases, and has six military satellites in orbit. It also has a large fleet of military aircraft (466) and battle tanks (213). On the naval side, the Royal Navy is equipped with two aircraft carriers and ten submarines. The UK’s defense spending is likely to grow from $68.46 billion in 2022 to $74.68 billion by 2030.