Russian troops Red Square

Russia vs Britain: How Do The Militaries Stack Up?

After a leaked British Army report admitted that the UK would be outgunned by Russia if a conflict were to occur now, we've taken a look at...

Russian troops Red Square

After a leaked British Army report admitted that the UK would be outgunned by Russia if a conflict were to occur now, we've taken a look at how the two militaries compare.


With a balance looking at "a large, strong fighting force across land, sea, and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure", the Global Firepower website ranks Russia as the world's second strongest military power, trailing only the US.

This is with a total population of 142 million, compared to 320 million for the United States.

Of this total, Russia is listed as having 70 million people available for military service from their population base, with 47 million who are deemed fit for service; 766,055 are active frontline personnel and 2.5 million are in reserve.

More: The Two Craft In The Latest British/Russian Face-Off 

Unlike the UK, Russia's military is made up of both volunteers and conscripts, with 1.3 million reaching military age annually.

According to the CIA Factbook, males are registered for service at 17 and have a service obligation of one year, giving the country a rolling stock of reservists to boost its numbers annually.

Conscripts can only be sent to combat zones after six months of training, however, meaning the number of battle-ready conscripts is in fact lower.

By contrast, the UK has 150,000 frontline and 82,000 reserve personnel from a manpower stock of 30 million and a total population base of 64 million - Globalfirepower ranks the UK sixth in its list of military powers.


Here too, the numbers are stacked heavily in Russia's favour - Globalfirepower lists the following figures.

Britain: Tanks: 407; Armoured Fighting Vehicles: 5,948; Self-Propelled Guns: 89; Towed-Artillery: 138; Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs): 42

Russia: Tanks: 15,398; AFVs: 31,298; SPGs: 5,972; Towed-Artillery: 4,625; MLRSs: 3,793

The T-14 Armata is Russia's latest tank, featuring an unmanned turret and a crew of three housed in the hull


Britain has a total fleet of 76 craft, consisting of 13 frigates, 6 destroyers, 10 submarines, 18 coastal defence craft, and 15 craft for mine warfare. No aircraft carriers are currently in service, although one will be commissioned next year and another in 2020.

Russia stacks up with a total naval strength of 352 craft, including 1 Aircraft Carrier, 4 Frigates, 15 Destroyers, 31 Corvettes, 60 subs, 14 coastal defence craft, and 45 mine warfare craft.


The UK's total air capacity consists of 879 aircraft, with 91 fighters, 168 fixed-wing attack aircraft, 348 helicopters, with 337 aircraft for transport, and 330 for training.

More: 'The Supersonic Russian Planes That Could Carry 400 Tanks'

Russia has 3,547 aircraft, with 751 fighters, 1,438 fixed-wing attack aircraft, 1,237 helicopters, with 1,124 and 370 transport and trainer aircraft.


According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Russia is the fourth biggest military spender in the world with a total 2015 annual budget of $66 billion (£51bn), while the UK is ranked fifth with a total budget of $56bn (or £43bn, to increase to £46bn over the course of 2016).

The US spends the most; at a 2015 budget of $598 billion, it spends 10 times as much as the UK.

More: 'Russia Ramping Up Military Spending'

There are almost certainly a number of factors that contribute to Russia's relatively low budget and high military power, though exchange rates may be part of the story.

It must also be borne in mind that Britain would only ever fight Russia as part of the NATO alliance, and thus, its military strength must be considered in that context.

Sources: CIA Factbook;; International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

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