What is the largest air force in the world in 2023? The power of any country is judged by its aircraft strength. Global Firepower tracks the total air service power for each national power considered for the annual GFP ranking.
Fixed-wing and rotary-wing (helicopter) aircraft types are included from all branches of the service (Air Force, Army Aviation, Navy, Marine).
Additionally, aircraft types considered include fighters, trainers, transports, dedicated bombers and ground-attackers, special-missions platforms, etc. Take a look at our list of the Top 10 Largest Air Forces in the World in 2023.
According to Global Fire Power, the French Air and Space Force is the tenth largest and most powerful air force in the world. It was the first military aviation force in history, formed in 1909 as the Service Aeronautique, the service arm of the French military.
It became an independent military branch in 1934 as the French Air Force. On 10 September 2020, it assumed its current name, the French Air and Space Force, to reflect the “evolution of its mission” in the field of outer space.
The French Air Force has 266 fighters, 125 transporters, 165 trainers, 46 special missions, 18 tanker fleets, 435 helicopters and 69 attack helicopters.
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The Turkish Air Force is the ninth largest air force in the world in 2023. It is the aerial warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces with 1057 aircraft. The Turkish Air Force can trace its origins back to June 1911 when it was founded by the Ottoman Empire.
However, the Air Force as it is known today did not exist until 1923 with the creation of the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish Air Force is considered the third largest air force in NATO.
Additionally, the Turkish Air Force has 205 fighters, 81 transporters, 270 trainers, 20 special missions, 7 tanker fleets, 474 helicopters and 107 attack helicopters.
The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) is the aviation arm of the Egyptian Armed Forces, responsible for all air defense missions. The EAF operates all military aircraft, including those used in support of the Egyptian Army, the Egyptian Navy, and the Egyptian Air Defense Forces.
The army is headed by an air marshal (equivalent to lieutenant general). Currently, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force is Air Marshal Mohamed Abbas Helmi.
The Egyptian Air Force is the 8th largest Air Force in the world in 2023. It has 250 fighters, 93 dedicated attacks, 59 transporters, 341 trainers, 11 special missions, 313 helicopters and 91 attack helicopters.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is the aerial warfare wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, tasked primarily with the air defense of Pakistan.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, as of 2021, the PAF has more than 70,000 active-duty personnel and operates at least 970 aircraft.
Its primary mandate and mission is to provide Pakistan’s most efficient, assured and cost-effective air defense, in sync with other inter-services.
Under Article 243, the Constitution of Pakistan appoints the President of Pakistan as the civilian Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Armed Forces.
In addition, the Pakistan Air Force is the seventh largest air force in the world with a total aircraft strength of 1,387. The PAF has 357 fighters, 90 dedicated attacks, 54 transporters, 551 trainers, 24 special missions, 4 tanker fleets, 307 helicopters and 57 attack helicopters.
Japan’s Air Force is known as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, one of the top 10 largest air forces in the world in 2023.
It is the Air and Space Branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, responsible for the defense of Japanese airspace, other air and space operations, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare.
The JASDF conducts combat air patrols around Japan, while also maintaining a network of ground and air early-warning radar systems.
In addition, the branch also has an aerobatic team known as the Blue Impulse and provides air transport to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The JASDF has 217 fighters, 23 dedicated attacks, 59 transports, 425 trainers, 164 special missions, 7 tanker fleets, 554 helicopters and 119 attack helicopters.
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The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is one of the top 10 largest air forces in the world by 2023, with over 1,500 aircraft. It is the Air Warfare Service branch of South Korea, which operates under the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea.
Shortly after the end of World War II, the South Korean Air Construction Association was established on August 10, 1946, to publicize the importance of air power.
On 13 September 1949, the United States contributed 10 L-4 Grasshopper observation aircraft to the South Korean Air Unit.
In addition, an Army Air Academy was established in January 1949, and ROKAF was officially established in October 1949. The ROKAF has 402 fighters, 90 dedicated attacks, 41 transports, 289 trainers, 30 special missions, 4 tanker fleets, 739 helicopters and 112 attack helicopters.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth among the world’s air forces.
The Indian Air Force’s primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as the Auxiliary Air Force of the British Empire, which honored India’s aviation service during World War II with the prefix Royal.
After India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force was renamed and named after the Dominion of India.
In addition, the IAF has 564 fighters, 130 dedicated attacks, 253 transports, 353 trainers, 71 special missions, 6 tanker fleets, 805 helicopters and 37 attack helicopters.
China has the third largest air force in the world in 2023, known as the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). It is an air service branch of the People’s Liberation Army, the regular armed force of the People’s Republic of China.
The PLAAF was officially established on 11 November 1949 and is made up of 5 branches which are Aviation, Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Surface to Air Missile (SAM), Radar and Airborne Corps.
In addition, the PLAAF has 1,200 fighters, 371 dedicated attacks, 286 transports, 399 trainers, 114 special missions, 3 tanker fleets, 912 helicopters and 281 attack helicopters.
The Russian Air Force is considered to be the second strongest air force in the world. It is a branch of the Russian Aerospace Forces, formed on 1 August 2015 with the merger of the Russian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.
The modern Russian Air Force was originally established on 7 May 1992 by Boris Yeltsin after the creation of the Ministry of Defense.
Additionally, the Russian Air Force is one of the largest air forces in the world in terms of military aircraft strength.
It has 772 fighter helicopters, 739 dedicated attack helicopters, 445 transports, 522 trainers, 132 special missions, 20 tanker fleet, 1543 helicopters and 544 attack helicopters.
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The United States Air Force (USAF) is considered the largest and most powerful air force in the world. It is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces, and one of eight U.S. uniformed services.
The US Air Force articulates its main missions as air supremacy, global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.
In addition, the United States Air Force has 5,463 helicopters, 910 attack helicopters, 627 tanker fleets, 1,957 fighters, 783 dedicated attacks, 982 transports, 2,661 trainers and 774 special missions.
Quick list of the top 10 largest Air Forces in the world in 2023