Tanks are combat vehicles, recognizable by their unique look. They are essentially weapons mounted to a platform, moved by two metal chains called tracks. Vehicles have been used in combat since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians used horse-drawn war chariots for bow-and-arrow combat. In the Middle Ages, armored vehicles, such as the battle ram, were used.
The first working tank was named Little Willie and was developed by Britain during the World War 1 era. Using tanks during the First World War changed the nature of warfare. Today, tanks look different from the first ones developed, but the weapons still play a vital role in combat across the globe. While some countries are honest with their military strength and weapons, not all countries pride themselves on transparency. Based on current statistics, here are the countries with the most tanks.
The 10 Countries with the Most Battle Tanks
- Russia - 12,566
- North Korea - 6,645
- United States - 5,500
- China - 4,950
- Egypt - 4,664
- India - 4,614
- Iran - 4,071
- Pakistan - 3,742
- Syria - 2,616
- South Korea - 2,331
1. Russia - 12,566
The Global Fire Power (GFP) world index lists Russia as one of the top five world powers. With a vast amount of land to protect (17,098,242 Km² or roughly 11% of the world's landmass), it makes sense Russia is the country with the most tanks.
Russia possesses 12,566 battle tanks, an estimated 36.6% of tanks from the top five countries with the most tanks. Of those, 8,168 are reported as being ready for use. The T-90 is Russia's most developed battle tank. The tank has an autoloader-serviced 125mm 2А46М main gun with 5km of range in its basic form.
2. North Korea - 6,645
North Korea has maintained a strong military presence under the Korean People's Army. The history of tanks in North Korea goes back to their adoption after World War II with the foundation of the Korean People's Party. In the 1980s, North Korea started manufacturing its own tanks. Today North Korea possesses 6,645 battle tanks, an estimated 19.4% of tanks from the top five countries with the most tanks.
3. United States - 5,500
The United States is known for indulging in military spending, which includes spending money on tanks. Since World War 1, the United States has produced battle tanks. The country uses tanks such as the M1 Abrams and its variants. There is a heavy version of the M-1 tank made for subarctic temperatures called the M-1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 tank. The United States is the NATO country with the most battle tanks. The United States has an estimated 16% of tanks from the top five countries with the most.
4. China - 4,950
According to the Global Fire Power index, China is a top five world power. The Defense Intelligence Agency reported in 2018 that China's tanks were a mix of older and more modern vehicles. One of China's newer tanks is a Type 15 tank, equipped with a 1,000-hp diesel engine, giving it a 28-to-1 horsepower-to-weight ratio. The diesel engine is less affected by altitude than gas engines, giving the tank an advantage in mountainous regions. Overall, China possesses 4,950 battle tanks, an estimated 14.4% of tanks from the top five countries with the most tanks.
5. Egypt - 4,664
Egypt is ranked as a top 15 power in the Global Fire Power Index. Over the past couple of decades, Egypt formed agreements with the United States for tank production. For example, Egypt and the United States have worked together to coproduce M1A1 Abrams Tanks, third-generation American main battle tanks. Today, Egypt possesses 4,664 tanks, an estimated 13.6% of tanks from the top five countries with the most tanks.
6. India - 4,614
It is no surprise that India, a country with one of the world's most powerful armies, also has a large number of battle tanks. Some of India's most notable battle tanks include the ARJUN MBT, T-90 BHISHMA, K-9 Vajra, T-72 Ajeya, and Vijayanta. The ARJUN MBT is a tank with a single MTU multi-fuel diesel engine and consists of a 120mm main gun with armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot ammunition. The tank can reach speeds up to 67kmph.
India has a history of trade deals for tanks with Russia. Some of the tanks used in the country are of Russian origin, like the T-90 BHISHMA tank. In 2001, India purchased 310 T90 tanks from Russia. The original tank was the T-72BU, but the name was changed to T90. French, Russian, and Indian engineers also upgraded the tank. The T-90 has a top speed of 60kmph. The tank uses a 125mm 2A46 smoothbore tank gun and 1G46 gunner sights.
7. Iran - 4,071
Iran possesses an impressive 4,071 battle tanks. One of its most remarkable tanks is called the Karrar, an upgraded version of the Iranian T-72S tank. The upgrades improved the tank's combat abilities. Some of the upgrades include a new fire control system, turret, and add-on armor. The tank has a remotely-controlled weapon station armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun. The Karrar was first publicly revealed in 2017. The Soviet Union gave Iran some Karrar tanks. The Russian tank T-90MS is similar to the Karrar and there is speculation that the Karrar is a license-produced version of the T-90MS.
8. Pakistan - 3,742
Pakistan has many battle tanks, including MBTs, Type-59/Al-Zarrar, a second-generation battle tank based on the Chinese Type 59 MBT, and VT-4 battle tanks. In 2019 Pakistan formally inducted VT-4 battle tanks into its armory. VT-4 battle tanks are China-made battle tanks. Pakistan was the third country to buy the tanks from China. Pakistan has also worked with China to develop tanks. The Pakistan armory has 350 al-Khalid MBTs, developed in the 1990s by Pakistan and China. There are other military battle tanks in the Pakistan armory. Pakistan operates the T-80UD MBT, a variation of the Soviet T-64 MBT tank. The tank was first introduced into the Pakistan armory in the late 1990s.
9. Syria - 2,616
Syria ranks ninth on this list, with 2,616 battle tanks in its possession. Many of these tanks are of Soviet or Russian origin. Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, estimating the exact number of tanks is difficult. Including vehicles in storage, reports from 2015 indicate Syria had 2,250 T-55/T-55/MV battle tanks. Of these, 2000 tanks were from the former Soviet Union. Originally, the armory had more of these tanks. However, as of March 2011, the civil war destroyed an estimated 682 tanks. Other tanks in the Syrian armory include T-62-/K/M and T-72/T-72M.
10. South Korea - 2,331
The South Korean armory has many sophisticated battle tanks. The most famous among them is the K2 Black Panther tank, one of the world's most advanced main battle tanks. The tank is better than most tanks in China and North Korea. There are also claims that the tank is better than the famous M1A2 Abrams. The K2 Black Panther is also one of the world's most expensive battle tanks. This tank's development began in 1995 and the first prototype was developed in 2007. Protection for the K2 is similar to the protection of the M1A2 Abrams tanks, but the K2 is a lighter tank. The armor can withstand direct hits from 120 mm tank rounds fired from L55 guns. The K2 has a German Rheinmetall CN08 120 mm/L55 smoothbore gun. South Korea also has had trade deals with other countries that wish to acquire the tanks. In 2022, Poland made a deal with South Korea and acquired 980 K2 tanks.
While keeping peace between countries is ideal, conflicts between countries never cease to exist. From tensions between Taiwan and China to the war between Russia and Ukraine, tanks still have a vital role to play in 2023 warfare. In the Russia-Ukraine conflict, tanks are seen as key for either side to gain territory on the battlefield. Countries with more battle tanks have more military advantages and can change the outcome of combat. As technology changes, so will tanks and the nature of military technology. Humans have come a long way from firing bows and arrows from horse-drawn chariots.
30 Countries With The Most Battle Tanks
|Rank||Country||No. of Battle Tanks|