Iran’s Military Ranked Ahead of Israel in Latest Firepower Index
As tensions in the Middle East worsen, a recent military ranking index suggests an Iran-Israel military conflict would pit two equally formidable military forces.
According to the annual Military Strength Ranking report compiled by Global Firepower, Israel’s military ranking dropped one spot from 16th to 17th in 2019, putting it three spots below 14th ranked Iran, which has been subject to U.S. sanctions due to U.S. allegations that Tehran violated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
As usual, the U.S. topped the list, followed by Russia, China, India and European powerhouses including Germany, the U.K. and France.
Israel’s military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product was among the world’s highest in 2018, at $15.9 million, or 4.3 percent of its GDP, as data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed. Israel is also one of the world’s ten largest arms exporters, after weapons exporting nations such as the U.S., Russia, China and Germany
How Was the Index Determined?
Global Firepower uses more than 55 factors to determine a country’s military ranking which the organization says enables smaller nations with more advanced technology to compete with larger, less-developed nations.
Factors used in compiling the rankings include the number of troops and weapons a country owns, presence of natural resources, local industry, and geography. The index does not include a country’s nuclear weapons or stockpile as a parameter. However, a recognized nuclear power is given additional points. Total available manpower and financial stability are considered key factors.
In fact, India ranked fourth out of 137 countries listed in the Global Firepower Index in no small part due to its extensive manpower. The country has 3,462,500 military personnel with 1,360,000 active personnel and 2,100,000 personnel in reserve.
Israel vs Iran: Military Comparison
Israel has 615,000 military personnel, 170,000 active personnel and 445,000 people in reserve, Global Firepower data said. This means a total of 7.3 percent of Israel’s population are somehow involved in the armed forces. Iran, however, has 873,000 military personnel, 523,000 active personnel and 350,000 people in reserve, meaning around 1.1 percent of Iran’s population are involved in the military.
Speaking of land strength, Israel has 2,760 combat tanks and 6,541 armored fighting vehicles while Iran has 1,634 combat tanks and 2,345 armored fighting vehicles.
Isreal, however, is widely believed to be a nuclear state though it maintains a policy of opacity regarding its nuclear weapons program. According to the Arms Control Association, Israel has 90 nuclear warheads as of 2019, placing it in 8th place of the 9 known nuclear states. The U.S. and Russia top the list with over 6,000 nuclear warheads each, while third place is occupied by France with 300 warheads.
Iran is not known to have nuclear weapons, though the U.S. under the Trump administration accused it of violating the Iran Nuclear Deal. The agency monitoring the Iran Nuclear Deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency, repeatedly affirmed that Iran was, in fact, complying with the provisions of the deal as set under the Obama administration.
Israel on Alert
Despite U.S. sanctions, Iran continues to upgrade its military by making deals with Russia, Global Firepower said. A TRT report last Saturday said Iran introduced a new air defense system believed to be capable of identifying drones and missiles at a range of 400 kilometers (about 250 miles). The defense system called the “Fallagh” is the local version of the imported “Gamma” radar, which referred to a Russian-produced system of that name.
Iran has warned that the tensions in the Middle East will worsen if Israel joins U.S.-led forces on the Strait of Hormuz following a series of tanker attacks. Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran deal and Iran’s retaliatory act by breaching some of the provisions in the nuclear agreement have triggered worsening relations between the two countries.
A July 2019 report by London-based Middle East Monitor (MEMO) said that Israel was planning for a “possible” military confrontation with Iran and its “military wings” in the next two years. The news came from Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi, in an interview with Israel Hayom.
“The possibility that there will be a military confrontation with Iran or its military arms is more likely than the possibility there will not be a war,” Hanegbi said.
Hanegbi – who is also a member of Israel’s security cabinet – reiterated that the issue is not related to “whether or not, but to the appropriate time”, as MEMO wrote.
The minister claimed that the war with Iran “has already moved from proxy war to direct war,” adding: “There will be a direct war between us [Israel] and Iran, direct or indirect war. This is impossible to be avoided and will get fiercer through time.”