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How Big Is The Spanish Military?

How powerful is the military of the EU's second largest country?

The Spanish Armed Forces is comprised of the Spanish Army - Ejército de Tierra, the Navy - Armada Española, the Spanish Air Force (SPAF) - Ejército del Aire which translates literally as "Army of the Air" and the Spanish Marines - Infanteria de Marina. 

It also includes the smaller Common Corps of the Spanish Armed Forces, the Spanish Royal Guard, or Guardia Real, and the Military Emergencies Unit - Unidad Militar de Emergencias.

As a member of NATO Spain is expected spend at least 2% GDP on its military.

However, data from the world bank in 2016 shows that Spain only spends around 1.2% of GDP on defence.

The data also shows the percentage of GDP spent on defence has fallen since the mid-1980's.

Spain's economy boomed in the 90's and 00's suggesting that while the economy boomed, spending on the Spanish Armed Forces failed to increase.

In contrast, North Korea spent 23% of its GDP on defence in 2016, clearly marking military expansion as the country's top priority. 

The Global Firepower website ranks Spain 41st in the world for active personnel with 124,100 service personnel available. 

Spain also currently has a 50,600 strong reserve force, bringing the total number of military personnel to 174,700.

By comparison, the total number of military personnel in British Armed Forces is 232,675, whilst the US Army employs more than 1.1 million active duty, reserve and National Guard members.

The Global Firepower website also shows that Spain has a total of 533 aircraft.

This includes 109 fighter aircraft, 108 attack aircraft, 181 transport aircraft, 171 trainer aircraft and 10 attack helicopters.

This might seem small compared to some other nation's air forces, for example Russia.

As the world's second largest air force, they posses 3,794 aircraft in total- including 1,438 attack aircraft and 806 fighter jets. 

On top of this, however, Spain has 327 combat tanks with an additional 2,493 armoured fighting vehicles and 239 artillery vehicles (towed and self-propelled).

And the Armada Española (Spanish Navy) has 2 aircraft carriers, 12 frigates, 3 submarines, 8 patrol craft and 6 mine warfare vessels. 

In comparison, the Royal Navy has 70 vessels in total 13 frigates, 6 destroyers, 11 submarines, 4 patrol craft and 15 mine warfare vessels. Its two aircraft carriers are still in development.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently out on sea trails, whilst the HMS Prince of Wales remains under construction in Rosyth.

Spanish Military