Global Firepower
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South Africa Military Strength

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 4/1/2015

The South African military is one of the most modern fighting forces on the African continent - complete with a local military industry.


The values showcased below are all considered for the final GFP ranking recognized as the "Power Index" (abbrv: "PwrIndx"). PwrIndx scores are judged on a perfect value of "0.0000" which is realistically unattainable due to the number of factors considered per country. Bonuses and penalties are added to each nation (as needed) while landlocked countries (ex: Austria) are not penalized for lack of a standing navy though they do suffer penalties for not maintaining a useful merchant marine force.

A total of 126 countries make up the GFP ranked list.

South Africa
PwrIndx: 0.9233

Going beyond military equipment totals and perceived fighting strength is the actual manpower that drives a given military. Wars of attrition favor those with more.

 Total Population: 48,375,645
 Available Manpower: 25,913,422
 Fit for Service: 14,093,327
 Reaching Military Age Annually: 964,139]
 Active Frontline Personnel: 88,565
 Active Reserve Personnel: 17,100

Tank value includes Main Battle Tanks, light tanks and tank destroyers, either wheeled or tracked. AFV value includes Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).

 Tanks: 195
 Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs): 2,265
 Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs): 43
 Towed-Artillery: 97
 Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs): 50

Includes both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft from all branches of service.

 Total Aircraft: 209
 Fighters/Interceptors: 17
 Fixed-Wing Attack Aircraft: 17
 Transport Aircraft: 106
 Trainer Aircraft: 67
 Helicopters: 96
 Attack Helicopters: 12

Aircraft Carrier value includes dedicated "helicopter carrier" vessels. Total naval strength includes all known auxiliaries as well.

 Total Naval Strength: 30
 Aircraft Carriers: 0
 Frigates: 4
 Destroyers: 0
 Corvettes: 0
 Submarines: 3
 Coastal Defense Craft: 9
 Mine Warfare: 4

Despite the advances made in battlefield technology, oil remains the lifeblood of any fighting force as well as local economy.

 Oil Production: 192,000 bbl/day
 Oil Consumption: 591,000 bbl/day]
 Proven Oil Reserves: 15,000,000 bbl/day

War is as much a battle of logistics - moving man and machine from points all over - as it is direct combat. Labor Force reflects possible wartime industry strength.

 Labor Force: 18,540,000
 Merchant Marine Strength: 3]
 Major Ports and Terminals: 5
 Roadway Coverage: 362,099
 Railway Coverage: 20,192
 Serviceable Airports: 566

Regardless of military strength in numbers, war is still driven by financing as much as any one leader or weapon.

 Defense Budget: $4,610,000,000
 External Debt: $139,000,000,000
 Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold: $48,460,000,000
 Purchasing Power Parity: $595,700,000,000

 GEOGRAPHY (in km)
Geographical values primarily figure into a defensive-minded war (i.e. invasion).

 Square Land Area: 1,219,090 km
 Coastline: 2,798 km
 Shared Border: 5,244 km
 Waterways: 0 km

Partial Sources:, CIA World Factbook,, public domain print and media sources and user contributions. Some values may be estimated when official sources are lacking.

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