The armed forces of most European countries are extremely weak, except for France, Great Britain and Germany. So how strong is their army?
First – France, the country with the most powerful armed forces in the European Union. In November 2019, Business Insider, one of the world’s leading analytical portals, rated the French military as second in continental Europe after Russia. With a total number of about 225,000 people, it has a balanced structure and possesses almost all modern weapons, from small arms to nuclear weapons. The French armed forces have the most experience in military operations in Europe.
France’s ground force is about 112,000 people, including infantry, tank forces, artillery, engineers and other units. One special unit is the Foreign Legion, which is recruited from citizens of other countries and numbered around 9,000 men. The main French ground force is about 400 Leclerc main battle tanks. The French Air Force has 1,262 aircraft of all kinds, of which the main fighter of this country is the Rafale.
The French navy has about 184 ships, including destroyers, frigates, patrol boats, submarines, and even France has a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named Charles de Gaulle. The main advantage of the French armed forces over other EU countries is the presence of nuclear weapons. It has about 300 strategic nuclear warheads, mounted on 4 nuclear submarines and on aircraft. France has its own ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead – the M51 with a maximum range of 8,000 km.
Ranked second is the United Kingdom, the country with the top military force in Europe. In the global rankings, according to the international rating organization Global Firepower, the UK is holding the sixth position. However, the UK is only 28th in the world in terms of numbers with 188,000 people.
The main force that stands out is the Challenger 2 tank, whose performance is close to that of the Russian T-90A tank. In total, the UK has 227 tanks in service and about 150 more in storage. In addition, Britain can send about a thousand armored personnel carriers and armored fighting vehicles in reserve into the battlefield when needed.
The Royal Navy is the second largest naval force in NATO. The British Navy currently has about 91 ships in service, including aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, mine-resistant ships and patrol boats. Britain is one of the countries with nuclear weapons. All 215 warheads are deployed on four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines. Each carries 16 Trident-2 strategic missiles with a range of up to 12,000 km.
The Royal Air Force consisted of 500 aircraft, made up of two combat corps and three auxiliary corps. Britain’s main fighter is 149 Typhoon fourth-generation multirole fighters. In addition, there are 46 Tornado fighter-bombers in service.
The third is the German army, founded in 1955. During the Cold War, the German Army played a pivotal role in NATO’s defense mission in Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Berlin carried out a large-scale disarmament program, but experts still rank the German army in third place in the European ranking.
The German military is currently ranked 10th globally. The total number of the German army is 177,000 men. Of these, 61,000 are ground forces, 18,000 are navy, 28,000 are air forces, and 20,000 are logistics forces. In 2020, the German Defense Minister announced that it will increase the number of troops to nearly 200,000 people by 2024. The main battle tank of the German army is the Leopard 2 with a number of 347 units of various versions.
The Luftwaffe was much more modest than other forces. Due to a lack of funding, the main components are outdated Tornado fighters and Typhoons. The German Navy is better invested in coast guard and support operations. Armed with 5 submarines, the same number of corvettes, 15 frigates, minesweepers, amphibious ships and auxiliary ships. The German navy previously had 10 Gepard-class fast attack crafts in its fleet, but was decommissioned in 2016.