Today’s Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the World

This list of Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the world is subjective at best.  Unless you looked at specific aspects and judged based on that criteria alone, the list cannot be definitive.  One can look at a nation’s defense budget or the size of their enlisted members, or combine the two.  Another area for consideration is the amount of armor a nation has inventoried including tanks, helicopters, aircraft and ships.  This top ten took in a little of all of that, but it is still one perspective looking at the Armies around the world.  Input and educational pieces on other armies not listed here, or any additional information that may have been omitted, are welcomed.   Before listing the top ten, one country fell just short of making the list, but certainly deserves to be mentioned – North Korea.  They not only have one of the largest Special Forces in the world – 120,000 members – they have a very large inventory of armor.   10.  Pakistan Pakistan is known for their good upper leadership.  Founded in 1947, their three branches of service totals more than 600,000 people – all volunteers.  They have close ties to the militaries of the US and China.  Pakistan’s budget of over $5 billion is smaller than all the other top ten militaries, but it does exceed the overall defense budget of a number of other countries around the world.  While Pakistan has about the same number of naval craft as the United Kingdom (see below), they have more aircraft and helicopters and an incredible total of 9,000 tanks and armored vehicles.  They...

Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King

The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King was first introduced in 1961 after its initial flight in March of 1959.  As the first amphibious helicopter, the SH-3 was widely used in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and in search and rescue operations.  Though retired from US Navy service, the SH-3 remains active in several other countries throughout the world.   Design and Development of the SH-3 Sea King During the Cold War era, the Soviet Navy began constructing a large fleet of submarines.  The United States Navy took measures to counter this threat by capitalizing on the newer technologies available on the ASW.   Sikorsky Aircraft was given the contract to build this all-weather aircraft, whose design surpassed current anti-submarine warfare and was the first to take advantage of twin-turbo shaft engines.  The use of these engines increased the payload capacity for the aircraft and its reliability - far beyond that of its predecessors.  The aircraft was also capable of combining the roles of hunter and killer – roles previously fulfilled by the use of two separate aircraft.   Operational History As an anti-submarine warfare helicopter, the Sea King was not only capable of detecting and tracking the Soviet subs, it was designed as an attack aircraft which could be used in combat if necessary.  The SH-3 was able to perform a variety of additional roles such as search and rescue mission, transport aircraft and anti-shipping and airborne early warning missions.  These helicopters were often stationed in close proximity to aircraft carriers ready to respond to any aircraft that would crash while taking off or landing.   THE SH-3 Sea King was used...

Top Bomber of All Time – Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

  The top bomber of all time was the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress which was first introduced in February of 1955.  The B-52 is a long-range, strategic bomber with eight jet-powered engines and is capable of carrying up to 70,000 lbs. of weapons.   Sky power looms at the center of the Armed Forces History Museum’s parking lot.   The commanding MiG-21 supersonic jet with its engine and afterburner cannot be ignored.  You can almost hear the radio transmissions as the pilot calls for instructions or to report his successful downing of an enemy aircraft.  Before stepping inside the museum, take a look inside the cockpit.   United States Air Force The USAF has been flying the B-52 Stratofortress since 1955.  Out of the original 13 ordered, only three were actually built.  These three were turned back over to Boeing and used in their test program.  New specifications emerged and the new order of 10 aircraft rolled out in a formal ceremony on March 18, 1954.   Additional Variants Additional variants continued to emerge, offering improvements to this already well planned aircraft.  Some of the designs took into account the need for the B52 to respond to updated combat strategies that included the continual changing of the warfare environment, the need to fly under any weather situation and to be able to maintain a low-altitude to fly under radar in prohibited fly zones.   Cold War and Vietnam War Cold War - Throughout the Cold War, the B52s were sent out on airborne alert missions.  The aircraft would remain at high altitudes over designated areas just outside the Soviet Union, remaining...

Top Ten Submarine Classes

Compiling a top ten list of submarine classes isn’t difficult given the submarines vital role in the military dates as far back as WWI.  A class is assigned to a single design that is used to build several submarines.  With each subsequent build, improvements and modifications are often incorporated, making later models far more effective than the ones preceding it.   The top ten submarine class list below is presented in alphabetical order.   Gato Class – The Gato Class from the U.S. were responsible for much of the damage encountered by the Japanese merchant ships during the war.  These submarines were not only well-armed, they were also fast and had a good range.  Armament on the Gato class included ten torpedo tubes – 6 located on the bow and 4 on the stern.  The torpedoes were capable of travelling up to 20 knots on the surface and close to 9 knots when submerged.   George Washington Class – The George Washington class was the first U.S. nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.  The USS George Washington was ordered in on December 31, 1957 and commissioned two years later on December 30, 1959.  The nuclear propulsion of the George Washington allowed it to remain submerged for months at a time without surfacing.  A total of five subs were built in this class and each was armed with 16 Polaris missiles.   Seawolf Class - The Seawolf Class are the most expensively built submarines in history.  At an incredible $4 billion each, these subs were not only exceptionally fast, they were also extremely quiet.  The class was designed to track and destroy...

Cold War Era’s Cuban Missile Crisis

In the early 1960s, while still in the Cold War Era, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.  Not only was the USSR behind in the arm’s race with the United States, it became apparent that the missiles they did have were not capable of reaching the United States.  They had only enough power to inflict damage in Europe.  The United States, however, had the capability of striking any point in the USSR.  By April of 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Premier, came up with a plan to place some of the USSRs intermediate range missiles off the Southeastern shore of the United States in Cuba.  Realization of this plan would provide additional security against a U.S. attack. At that time, Fidel Castro of Cuba was seeking additional security for his country after the the Bay of Pigs invasion in April of 1961.  Though unsuccessful, the attack placed Cuban on heightened alert as they felt another attack was imminent.  As a result, Castro agreed to allow the USSR to place missiles on Cuba.  Once this permission was granted, the Soviet Union worked fast and hard on missile installations. However, by October of 1962, photographs taken from a U.S. reconnaissance plane detected the construction of the USSR missiles. President John F. Kennedy, once he was informed of this discovery, gathered twelve of his top advisors – which they formed as the EX-COMM group.  Seven days of intense debate ensued, and a decision was finally reached to place a naval quarantine around the island of Cuba.  When he announced this discovery and his plans to the American public, he also made it known that...

Cold War

Photos from this era, along with various missiles, are part of the Cold War display at the Armed Forces History Museum.  Panels display various points of interest from the Cold War era, along with uniforms from the USSR military and two recoilless anti-tank guns.  One of the most unique items in this area is the Red Army Vodka bottle and shot glasses complete with wooden case.   A Brief Look at the Cold War Beginning around 1945, the Cold War, receiving its name as it involved no actual military action, involved the powers from the known Western World and those of the communist world.  At the center of the Cold War were weapons of mass destruction – such as the nuclear bomb.  The development of these weapons guaranteed, if implemented, mutual destruction.  The Cold War found the United States and NATO allies heading up the Western world, and the Soviet Union, satellite states and allies heading up the communist world.  In the late 1980s and first part of 1990, economic instability created a need for cut-back in the military spending in the Soviet Union.  However U.S. President Ronald Reagan continued building up U.S. arms, which prevented the USSR from making the necessary cutbacks.  The Soviet Union also began experiencing difficulty with liberal reforms and uprisings and revolutions and by 1991, the USSR collapsed, ending the Cold War.    Military action was never implemented during the Cold War.  However, tensions existed throughout this era – such as those during the Cuban Missile Crisis - that could have easily escalated into a military based...