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Breaking Down $1.3T in NATO Defense Spending

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

Voronoi graphic breaking down $1.3T in NATO defense spending in 2023.

Breaking down $1.3T in NATO Defense Spending

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance comprising 31 countries. Its primary purpose is to facilitate cooperation among member nations, ensuring mutual defense and security.

This graphic breaks down the expected defense expenditures of NATO members in 2023, using data from NATO and based on current prices and exchange rates.

U.S. Dominance of NATO’s Defense Spending

NATO defines defense expenditure as payments made by a national government, excluding regional, local, and municipal authorities, specifically to fulfill the requirements of its armed forces. It requires members to spend at least 2% of its GDP on defense.

A major component of defense expenditure includes payments for active armed forces personnel as well as retired pensioners. Expenditures for stockpiling war reserves of military equipment or supplies are also included. Additionally, it encompasses expenditures for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, as well as the destruction of weapons.

The U.S. is by far the largest contributor to NATO’s budget. In 2023, the country accounted for $860 billion spent by the organization, representing 68% of the total expenditure. This amount is over 10 times more than that of the second-placed country, Germany.

Country2023 Defense Spending (USD, Millions)*
🇺🇸 United States$860,000
🇩🇪 Germany$68,080
🇬🇧 United Kingdom$65,763
🇫🇷 France$56,649
🇮🇹 Italy$31,585
🇵🇱 Poland$29,105
🇨🇦 Canada$28,950
🇪🇸 Spain$19,179
🇳🇱 Netherlands$16,741
🇹🇷 Türkiye$15,842
🇳🇴 Norway$8,814
🇷🇴 Romania$8,481
🇫🇮 Finland$7,325
🇬🇷 Greece$7,125
🇧🇪 Belgium$7,076
🇩🇰 Denmark$6,775
🇭🇺 Hungary$5,036
🇨🇿 Czechia$5,033
🇵🇹 Portugal$4,167
🌐 Other$12,400

*Expected spending in 2023, based on July 2023 data from NATO.

U.S. defense spending, within the context of NATO, aims to support European allies, deter adversaries like Russia, and gain access to additional military resources, among other objectives.

In 2018, then-President Trump sent letters to NATO allies demanding that they spend more on defense to meet the 2% minimum target. In recent years, however, the U.S. has increased its spending, experiencing a 6% jump compared to 2021.

The Future of NATO

After two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO has mostly maintained its unity against Moscow.

The alliance has expanded with Finland’s membership in 2023 and will likely include Sweden soon.

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War

Visualized: Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare. 

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Teaser image for an dot matrix chart of the top 15 global tank fleets, broken down by main battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and storage, showing that the U.S. is number one, by a wide margin.

The Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare.

This visualization shows the top 15 global tank fleets, using data from the 2024 Military Balance report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Let’s take an in-depth look at the top three fleets:

1. United States

As the world’s pre-eminent military power, it’s perhaps no surprise that the United States also has the largest tank fleet, by a wide margin.

In total, they have just over 45,000 armored fighting vehicles in operation, along with 2,640 main battle tanks (MBTs), and 12,800 vehicles in storage, of which 2,000 are main battle tanks.

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks2,6404
Armored reconnaissance1,7451
Infantry fighting vehicles3,2623
Armored personnel carriers10,6441
Amphibious assault vehicles1,4011
Armored utility vehicles28,4451
Storage12,8001
Total60,9371

The U.S. is internalizing the lessons from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, where Western-supplied anti-tank weapons and massed Ukrainian artillery have been cutting Russian tanks to pieces. As a result, the U.S. recently canceled an upgrade of the M1 Abrams in favor of a more ambitious upgrade.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is nervously eyeing a more confident China and a potential clash over Taiwan, where air and naval forces will be critical. However, a recent war game showed that Taiwanese mechanized ground forces, kitted out with American-made tanks and armored fighting vehicles, were critical in keeping the island autonomous.

2. Russia

According to Oryx, a Dutch open-source intelligence defense website, at time of writing, Russia has lost almost 2,800 main battle tanks since invading Ukraine. Considering that in the 2022 edition of the Military Balance, Russia was estimated to have 2,927 MBTs in operation, those are some hefty losses.

Russia has been able to maintain about 2,000 MBTs in the field, in part, by increasing domestic production. Many defense plants have been taken over by state-owned Rostec and now operate around the clock. Russia is also now spending a full third of their budget on defense, equivalent to about 7.5% of GDP.

At the same time, they’ve also been drawing down their Soviet-era stockpiles, which are modernized before being sent to the front. Just how long they can keep this up is an open question; their stockpiles are large, but not limitless. Here is what their storage levels look like:

Category20232024YOY change
Main battle tanks5,0004,000-20.0%
Armored reconnaissance1,000100-90.0%
Infantry fighting vehicles4,0002,800-30.0%
Armored personnel carriers6,0002,300-61.7%
Total16,0009,200-42.5%

3. China

China holds the third overall spot and top place globally for the number of main battle tanks in operation. Untypically, the People’s Liberation Army has no armored vehicles in storage, which perhaps isn’t surprising when you consider that China has been rapidly modernizing its military and that stockpiles usually contain older models.

China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of armored fighting vehicles, second only to the United States. Breaking down that headline number, we can also see that they have the largest number of light tanks, wheeled guns, and infantry fighting vehicles. 

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks4,7001
Light tanks1,3301
Wheeled guns1,2501
Infantry fighting vehicles8,2001
Armored personnel carriers3,6045
Airborne combat vehicles1802
Amphibious assault vehicles9902
Total20,2543

This is equipment that would be integral if China were to make an attempt to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force, where lightly armored mechanized units need to move with speed to occupy the island before Western allies can enter the fray. It’s worth noting that China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of amphibious assault vehicles.

End of the Tank?

Many commentators at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were quick to predict the end of the tank, however, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the tank’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

With the U.S. and China both developing remote and autonomous armored vehicles, tanks could be quite different in the future, but there is nothing else that matches them for firepower, mobility, and survivability on the modern battlefield today.

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