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2023 South Africa Military Strength



South Africa National flag graphic

For 2023, South Africa is ranked 33 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. The nation holds a PwrIndx* score of 0.4885 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect'). This entry last reviewed on 01/01/2023.

*PwrIndx: Each nation is assessed on individual and collective values processed through an in-house formula to generate its 'PwrIndx' (Power Index) score. Some values are estimated when official numbers are not available. View the NOTES tab below for a detailed breakdown of other assessments.
South Africa country map image
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Breakdown



South Africa is ranked 33 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual Global Firepower review. The nation holds a Power Index score of 0.4885 with a score of 0.0000 being considered exceptional in the GFP assessment.
African Union logo graphic
This country is an Active Member of the African Union alliance.
Coal graphical icon
This country is a Top 10 global producer of Coal, a critical natural resource.

Population
26/ 145
Avail.Manpwr
25/ 145
Fit-for-Serv
35/ 145
Mil.Age.Annu
22/ 145
Active Persn
54/ 145
Rez.Persn
45/ 145
Paramil.Persn
14/ 145
Aircraft
41/ 145
Fighters
51/ 145
Attack Types
145/ 145
Transports
30/ 145
Trainers
31/ 145
Spl.Mission
26/ 145
Tankers
145/ 145
Helicopters
37/ 145
Attack Helos
34/ 145
Tanks
63/ 145
Vehicles
29/ 145
Artillery (SP)
51/ 145
Art.(Towed)
68/ 145
MLRS
37/ 145
Ships
47/ 145
AC Carriers
145/ 145
Helo.Carriers
145/ 145
Destroyers
145/ 145
Frigates
14/ 145
Corvettes
145/ 145
Submarines
18/ 145
Offsh.Patrol
28/ 145
Mine Warfare
20/ 145
Oil Prod
43/ 145
Oil Consump
86/ 145
Oil Rez.Proven
70/ 145
Nat.Gas Prod
60/ 145
NatGas Cons
47/ 145
NatGas Rez
145/ 145
Coal Prod
7/ 145
Coal Consump
110/ 145
Coal Rez.Prvn
12/ 145
Labor Force
36/ 145
Merch.Marines
66/ 145
Major Ports
15/ 145
Roadways
10/ 145
Railways
13/ 145
Airports
19/ 145
Def.Budget
59/ 145
Ext.Debt
80/ 145
Foreign Rez
37/ 145
Purch.Power
33/ 145
Sq.Land Area
24/ 145
Coastline
73/ 145
Shared Border
101/ 145
Waterways
145/ 145


Excellent
Good
Average
Fair
Poor


GENERAL CAPABILITIES
Theoretical, automatically generated based on supplied values.

National Defense
Guerilla/Asymmetric Warfare
Airspace Defense
Tactical Reach
Battlefield Support
Armored Warfare
Internal Security
Land Convoy Protection
Indirect Fire Support
Waterway Denial
Submarine Hunting
Global Trade
Goods/Supplies Transportation
Natural Geographic Defense



The act of waging (and sustaining) a prolonged conflict requires a massive financial commitment from all parties involved. As such, GFP focuses on a select group of financially-related categories showcased below.


Small graph icon
33/145
Purchasing Power Parity:
$680,040,000,000 USD
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37/145
Foreign Exchange/Gold:
$50,720,000,000 USD
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59/145
Defense Budget:
$2,814,016,919 USD
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80/145
External Debt:
$180,000,000,000 USD
All monetary values presented in United States Dollar (USD$).


Manpower is one of the few categories that every nation satisfies in the GFP index to one extent or another. These categories detail the maximum and realistic number of souls a given nation can commit to a war effort, be it offensive or defensive in nature.


Small graph icon
26/145
Total Population:
57,516,665
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25/145
Available Manpower
26,457,666 (46.0%)
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35/145
Fit-for-Service
14,264,133 (24.8%)
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22/145
Reaching Mil Age Annually
977,783 (1.7%)
Tot Mil. Personnel (est.)
232,700 (0.4%)
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54/145
Active Personnel
40,200 (0.1%)
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45/145
Reserve Personnel
12,500 (0.0%)
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14/145
Paramilitary
180,000 (0.3%)
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36/145
Air Force Personnel*
12,000
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42/145
Army Personnel*
36,000
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44/145
Navy Personnel*
6,815


*These values may be estimated.
Manpower Composition:
Hover over the various color-coded sections in the bar below for details on each category.


GFP tracks specific categories related to aerial warfare capabilities of a given power. READINESS values are based against the U.S. Air Force's 75% average across all categories to account for availability of individual over-battlefield assets due to general maintenance, modernization, refurbishment and the like. Percent values are % of total inventory stock available.


Small graph icon
41/145
Aircraft Total:
Stock: 226
Readiness: 147*
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51/145
Fighters:
Stock: 17 (7.5%)
Readiness: 11*
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145/145
Attack Types:
Stock: 0 (0.0%)
Readiness: 0*
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30/145
Transports (Fixed-Wing):
Stock: 23 (10.2%)
Readiness: 15*
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31/145
Trainers:
Stock: 88 (38.9%)
Readiness: 57*
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26/145
Special-Mission:
Stock: 7 (3.1%)
Readiness: 5*
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145/145
Tanker Fleet:
Stock: 0 (0.0%)
Readiness: 0*
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37/145
Helicopters:
Stock: 91 (40.3%)
Readiness: 59*
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34/145
Attack Helicopters:
Stock: 12 (5.3%)
Readiness: 8*


*Values are estimated.
Inventory Composition:
Hover over pie slices in the chart below for category information. Pecentages below are not part of overall strength above but rather relative to each category presented below.

For an in-depth overview of current leading air powers of the world, including active inventories and strengths, consult the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft (www.WDMMA.org).

GFP tracks specific categories related to land warfare capabilities of a given power. READINESS values are based against the U.S. Army's 80% average across all categories to account for availability of individual battlefield assets due to general maintenance, modernization, refurbishment and the like.


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63/145
Tanks:
Stock: 195
Readiness: 146*
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29/145
Vehicles:
Stock: 34,540
Readiness: 25,905*
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51/145
Self-Propelled Artillery:
Stock: 49
Readiness: 37*
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68/145
Towed Artillery:
Stock: 82
Readiness: 62*
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37/145
MLRS (Rocket Artillery):
Stock: 101
Readiness: 76*


*Values are estimated.
Inventory Composition:
Hover over pie slices in the chart below for category information.



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47/145
Total Assets:
47
Small graph icon
145/145
Aircraft Carriers:
0
Small graph icon
145/145
Helicopter Carriers:
0
Small graph icon
145/145
Destroyers:
0
Small graph icon
14/145
Frigates:
4
Small graph icon
145/145
Corvettes:
0
Small graph icon
18/145
Submarines:
3
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28/145
Patrol Vessels:
31
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20/145
Mine Warfare:
2
Inventory Composition:
Hover over the pie slices in the chart below for more details.

For an in-depth overview of current leading naval powers of the world, including active inventories and strengths, consult the World Directory of Modern Military Warships (www.WDMMW.org).
GFP Hull Classifications:
GlobalFirepower.com (GFP) takes a rather conventional approach to hull classifications regarding per-country naval assets. Below are descriptions of each type considered:

Aircraft Carriers
These are either conventional- or nuclear-powered forms showcasing an expansive flight deck with hangar elevators for access. This surface is used for the launching and retrieval of fixed-wing aircraft (as a primary function) and rotorcraft (as a secondary function). In modern navies, Aircraft Carriers represent the flagship of the fleet, making them vital assets. Only a few select nations maintain an aircraft carrier as part of their surface fleet.
Helicopter Carriers
The Helicopter Carrier primarily supports rotorcraft and may offer facilities for the operation of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft such as the F-35 and AV-8B 'jump jets'. These vessels are typically dimensionally smaller when compared to their Aircraft Carrier brethren. Provision for operating UAVs may also be seen in these vessel types.
Destroyers
Destroyers are the largest named, non-carrier ship type in modern fleets (not including Cruisers which are used by only a few powers). They are powerful, multi-mission oriented hulls with a broad array of sensors, processing systems, and weaponry and can support one or more rotorcraft from their included flight deck. Some forms are mission-specific, focusing on airspace deterrence or submarine hunting as primary roles.
Frigates
Frigates are the economical answer to the Destroyer, given roughly the same Blue Water / deep water capabilities and broad weapons / mission set. Similarly, they can support rotorcraft and operate independently or as part of the main fighting fleet. Their hull design bridges the gap between the dimensionally larger Destroyer and the smaller Corvette.
Corvettes
Corvettes typically represent the 'smallest' named vessels of the fleet. These are relatively compact hulls capable of operating in Blue Water environments as well as close-to-shore depending on draught depth. Corvettes can prove to be an economical measure for specific powers finding Frigate types out-of-scope and can also serve well those nations showcasing long-running coastlines.
Submarines
Conventionally- (diesel-electric) and nuclear-powered submersible hull designs are grouped together in the GFP analysis. Additionally, there is no distinction made between dedicated-attack, ballistic missile, and nuclear-attack types. Compact 'midget' submarines are also included as they still form portions of some fleets (as is the case for North Korea and Iran).
Patrol Vessels
The Patrol Vessel category is purposely broad and includes Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) types as well as gunboats, missile boats, fast-attack craft, and - in some cases - riverine assets. These boats are given shallow draughts for their specific operating environments and will typically serve as deterrent and enforcement assets in the grand scheme of the surface fleet.
Mine Warfare
Mine Warfare and Mine / Countermine assets are a generally overlooked portion of any surface fleet but prove just as critical as other designs particularly in times of war where their capabilities allow for denial of strategic waterways or participation in 'siege tactics' against harbors and ports. The GFP analysis reflects their importance in modern naval warfare.

End-use products reflect a given nation's ability to produce products through manufacturing, industry, and / or agriculture.
Icon image of a car
AUTOS
Icon image of a cow
BEEF
Icon image of chemicals
CHEMICLS
Icon image of corn cob
CORN
Icon image of a farming tractor
FARMMACH
Icon image of a fertilizer bag
FERTLZR
Icon image of a gold bar
GOLD
Icon image of a grape clump
GRAPES
Icon image of an iron nugget
IRON
Icon image of a metal stack
METALS
Icon image of a milk carton
MILK
Icon image of mining pick and shovel
MINING
Icon image of a group of oranges
ORANGES
Icon image of a potato
POTATOES
Icon image of a rooster
POULTRY
Icon image of soybeans
SOYBEANS
Icon image of steel beams
STEEL
Icon image of a stack of sugar cane rods
SGRCANE
Icon image of textile swatches
TEXTILES
Icon image of wheat
WHEAT



The GFP index tracks crude Oil (petroleum) and (new as of 2023) Natural Gas and Coal usage / reserves / stock for each country. Natural resources are critical to a nation in both war and peace time, in some cases forming the lifeblood of a given world power. 2022 showed just how natural resources can be 'weaponized' by one party over another.


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43/145
Oil Production:
100,000 bbl
Small graph icon
86/145
Oil Consumption:
623,000 bbl
Oil Deficit:
-523,000 bbl
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70/145
Oil Proven Reserves:
15,000,000 bbl

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60/145
Natural Gas Production:
1,229,544,000 cu.m
Small graph icon
47/145
Natural Gas Consumption:
4,771,551,000 cu.m
Natural Gas Deficit:
-3,542,007,000 cu.m
Small graph icon
145/145
Nat.Gas Proven Rez:
0 cu.m

Small graph icon
7/145
Coal Production:
248,388,000 mt
Small graph icon
110/145
Coal Consumption:
170,308,000 mt
Coal Deficit:
+78,080,000 mt
Small graph icon
12/145
Coal Proven Reserves:
9,893,000,000 mt
Oil bbl represented as unit 'barrel of oil'. Natural Gas represented in 'cubic meters'. Coal represented in 'metric tons'.


The GFP formula tracks various factors related to logistics which prove critical to any one global power in both war and peace time. These factor into a nation's ability to move man, machine, and supplies from one point to another - a particularly important quality when considering mass-mobilization.


Small graph icon
36/145
Labor Force:
14,687,000
Small graph icon
66/145
Merchant Marine Fleet:
105
Small graph icon
15/145
Ports / Trade Terminals:
6
Small graph icon
19/145
Airports:
407
Small graph icon
10/145
Roadway Coverage:
750,000 km
Small graph icon
13/145
Railway Coverage:
20,986 km
Small graph icon
145/145
Waterways (usable):
0 km



FINANCIALS - Values partly derived from the CIA World Factbook and presented in USD ($). Estimates made when needed.

GEOGRAPHY - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook. As geography can play a role in both offensive and defensive wars, the GFP formula takes geographic qualities into account (border coverage, coastline coverage).

CAPITAL - Basic details covering the name, population, temperature, and precipitation values of a given capital city.

MANPOWER - Values partly derived from the CIA World Factbook. Some values may be estimated.

AIRPOWER - Values derived from multiple sources. Estimates made when required. Total Aircraft Strength value includes both fixed-wing and rotorcraft platforms from all branches of service (at this time UAVs are not included). 'Attack' value constitutes purpose-built, fixed-wing dedicated attack types. 'Transports' value includes only fixed-wing aircraft while all rotorcraft are represented under the 'Helicopters' value. For an in-depth look into the current air powers of the world, consider "the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft" [www.WDMMA.org - external link].

LAND FORCES - Values derived from multiple sources. Estimates made when required. 'Tanks' value includes Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), medium tanks, and light tanks. 'Vehicles' value includes APCs, IFVs, MRAPs, Armored Cars, and support / logistical / engineering types. 'Rocket Projectors' (MLRSs) include self-propelled and towed forms.

NAVAL FORCES - Values derived from multiple sources. Estimates made when required. 'Total Assets' value includes all possible / available vessels including auxiliaries. 'Aircraft Carriers' value includes only traditional through-deck carriers (both conventionally- and nuclear-powered); Helicopter Carriers are considered in their own separate listing. 'Submarines' value includes both diesel-electric and nuclear-powered types. Landlocked nations are not penalized for the lack of a standing navy. For an in-depth look into the current naval powers of the world, consider "the World Directory of Modern Military Warships" [www.WDMMW.org - external link].

END-USE PRODUCTS - Graphics intended to showcase manufacturing, industrial, and agricultural prowess of a global power. Not all products may be accounted for in the showcase.

NATURAL RESOURCES - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook or estimated in some cases. Values presented as BBL (Barrel unit), cu.m (Cubic Meters), and mt (Metric Tons).

LOGISTICS - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook. Ports & Terminals may reside outside of a nations own borders if arrangements with an ally have been made. Landlocked nations are penalized for the lack of a standing Merchant Marine force.
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