Rising tensions in the Pacific near Taiwan and China’s recurring incursions into Taiwan’s airspace has the island nation seeking U.S. cooperation to make the next domestically developed fighter jet. In the present era of rapid advancements in military technology, fighter jets have emerged as indispensable components of a nation’s military arsenal to provide air superiority, support ground troops, and a myriad other capabilities. (Overall, these are the largest air forces in the world.)
To determine the 20 countries with the largest fighter jet fleets, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2023 report, World Air Forces, from FlightGlobal, an aviation and aerospace industry website. Countries were ranked by the number of fighter jets in their active military fleet. Supplemental data regarding total fleet size and the most common fighter jet also came from FlightGlobal. Military expenditure data for 2022 came from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database.
At the top of the list are the United States and China, which are both seeking air superiority in the Pacific. The two nations have some of the largest and most technologically advanced air forces in the world. At the current rate that China and the U.S. are throwing money at their defense budgets, the two will likely continue to compete for air superiority for years to come.
Russia is another global air power contender renowned for its fighter jet fleet, which has over 1,500 aircraft. Although smaller in terms of total fighter aircraft quantity in comparison to the U.S., Russia has earned recognition for some of its fighter jets. The Russian Su-57, along with the proven and reliable MiG-29 and Su-30, represent the core of the Russian fighter fleet. (Here is every plane in Russia’s air force.)
Countries like the United States, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan occupy some of the top spots on this list. Notably, countries with the largest aircraft fleets tend to own more fighter jets and spend more on their military budgets.
As these nations seek to maintain or extend their strategic influence, the role of fighter aircraft in modern warfare will continue to be significant. Here’s a look at the 20 countries with the largest fighter jet fleets.
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