A comparison of Iran, Israel military might

Iran claims having a numerical edge in tanks, rockets and towed artillery

By Sabir Shah
April 15, 2024
This image shows the flags of Israel (L), and Iran. — AFP/File

LAHORE: As compared to Israel’s military budget of $24.4 billion, Iran spends only $10 billion on advanced weaponry and superior force.


Numerous Western media houses contend that Israel’s arsenal includes 612 aircraft to Iran’s 551, and 146 helicopters to Iran’s 129 (with only 13 attack choppers compared to Israel’s 48), asserting Israel has a distinct edge because its strategic nuclear triad -- the ability to launch nuclear strikes from land, air, and sea -- provides it a devastating deterrent that Iran cannot match.

On the other hand, Iran claims having a numerical edge in tanks, rockets and towed artillery.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel has approximately 80 nuclear weapons. Of these, approximately 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft. The remaining 50 weapons are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles, which are believed to be based with their mobile launchers in caves at a military base east of Jerusalem.

A report appearing in Al-Jazeera Television on October 11, 2023 states: “Military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens over the age of 18 – once enlisted, men are expected to serve for 32 months and women for 24 months. Israel has one of the world’s most powerful militaries, bolstered by more than $3.8 billion of military aid a year from the US. Israel operates a vast military apparatus.”

Quoting the Military Balance 2023 report prepared by the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS), the Doha-based media house adds: “Israel has 169,500 active military personnel in the army, navy and paramilitary. A further 465,000 constitute its reserve forces, while 8,000 form part of its paramilitary. In terms of Land Power, Israel has 2200 + tanks and 530 artillery. Its Air Power capability includes 339 combat capable aircraft including 309 fighter ground attack jets (196 F-16 jets, 83 F-15 jets and 30 F-35 jets), and 142 helicopters (43 of which are Apache attack helicopters), while its Naval Power comprises five submarines and 49 patrol and coastal combatants.

In 2022, Israel spent $23.4 billion on its military, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. This amounts to $2,535 per capita over the 2018-2022 period, making it the world’s second-largest spender on military per capita after Qatar. In the period between 2018 and 2022, Israel imported weapons totalling $2.7 billion from only two countries, the US and Germany.” Meanwhile, Iran had spent $6.8 billion on its military in 2022.

According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and other noted Western think-tanks dealing with the subject, Iranian Armed Forces are the largest in the Middle East in terms of active troops.

Iran’s military forces are made up of approximately 587,000 active-duty personnel plus 200,000 Reserve and trained personnel that can be mobilized when needed, bringing the country’s military manpower to about 787,000 total personnel.

In one of its very recent reports, the New York Times has gone on to write: “The Iranian armed forces are among the largest in the Middle East, with at least 580,000 active-duty personnel and about 200,000 trained reserve personnel divided among the traditional army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.”

The American media house quoted experts as saying that Iran has one of the largest arsenals of ballistic missiles and drones in the Middle East, which includes cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles, as well as ballistic missiles with ranges up to 2,000 kilometers, or more than 1,200 miles. These have the capacity and range to hit any target in the Middle East, including Israel.

The New York Times viewed: “In recent years, Tehran has assembled a large inventory of drones with ranges of around 1,200 to 1,550 miles and capable of flying low to evade radar, according to experts and Iranian commanders who have given public interviews to the state news media. Iran’s military is viewed as one of the strongest in the region in terms of equipment, cohesion, experience and quality of personnel, but it lags far behind the power and sophistication of the armed forces of the United States, Israel and some European countries, experts said.”

The NDTV of India, in its January 18, 2024 report, had also shed some light on Iranian military strength.

It had opined: “Iran possesses a substantial military force, comprising the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy. The IRIAF, with over 500 aircraft, including domestically produced Saegheh and older F-4 Phantoms, is a key player in Iran’s defence. The Iranian Navy, with approximately 20,000 active-duty personnel, maintains a diverse fleet of 67 units, including frigates, corvettes, and submarines.”