India vs Pakistan: Military Strength And Armaments

Pakistani Rangers (black uniforms) and Indian Border Security Force personnel (brown uniforms) take part in the daily beating of the retreat ceremony during India's 69th Republic Day celebrations at the Indian Pakistan Wagah Border post about 35km from Amritsar on January 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

A comparative look at the military budget, nuclear capabilities, army, air force and navy of the South Asian rivals.

According to the latest figures from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the US-based Arms Control Association, there are some significant differences between the two countries.

The regional rivals have gone to war twice over Kashmir since independence in 1947 from Britain. India backed Bangladesh (Formerly East Pakistan) in 1971 for the war of Independence of Bangladesh. India and Pakistan have gone war in 1971. India and Pakistan have fought several small-scale skirmish since 1947.

Here is how their militaries stack up.

Military budget

In 2018, India allocated four trillion rupees ($58bn), or 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), to support its 1.4 million active troops, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Last year, Pakistan spent 1.26 trillion Pakistani rupees ($11bn), about 3.6 percent of its GDP, on its 653,800 troops. It also received $100m in foreign military assistance in 2018.

Between 1993 and 2006, more than 20 percent of Pakistan’s annual government expenditure was spent on the military, according to estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The military accounted for 16.7 percent of government spending in 2017, it said.

By comparison, India’s military spending as a percentage of its government expenditure remained under 12 percent during the same period, according to SIPRI. It was 9.1 percent in 2017.

Missiles and nuclear weapons 

Both nations have ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

India has nine types of operational missiles, including the Agni-3 with a range of 3,000km to 5,000km, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.

Agni V of Indian Army

Pakistan’s missile programme, built with Chinese assistance, includes mobile short- and medium-range weapons that can reach any part of India, CSIS said. The Shaheen 2 has the longest range, up to 2,000km.

In 2011, Pakistan confirmed that it had acquired tactical nuclear weapon capability, wherein smaller nuclear warheads are attached to short-range missiles (50-100km) as a deterrent against relatively small-scale conventional Indian attacks. 

Shahin II of Pakistan Army

The addition of tactical nuclear weapons to Pakistan’s arsenal lowers the threshold for nuclear weapon use, giving Pakistan what its military terms “full spectrum deterrence” against India’s conventional forces.

The weapons were developed to counter India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, which envisions a shallow incursion into Pakistani territory without breaching its previous nuclear threshold.

Pakistan has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads, compared with India’s 130-140 warheads, according to SIPRI.


India has a 1.2 million-strong army, supported by more than 3,565 battle tanks, 3,100 infantry fighting vehicles, 336 armoured personnel carriers and 9,719 pieces of artillery, according to IISS.

Pakistan’s army is smaller, with 560,000 troops backed by 2,496 tanks, 1,605 armoured personnel carriers, and 4,472 artillery guns, including 375 self-propelled howitzers.

Despite its larger army, the capability of India’s “conventional forces is limited by inadequate logistics, maintenance and shortages of ammunition and spare parts”, IISS said in a report this month.

Air Force

With 127,200 personnel and 814 combat aircraft, India’s air force is substantially larger but there are concerns about its fighter jet fleet.

India’s defense plans require 42 squadrons of jets, about 750 aircraft, to defend against a two-pronged attack from China and Pakistan.

Rafale Aircraft of Indian Air Force, armed with sophisticated Meteor BVRAAM and most advanced Scalp cruise missile.

With older Russian jets like the MiG-29, and Su-30MKI first used in Kashmir skirmish, India could have 22 squadrons by 2032, officials say. Indian Air Force recently acquired 36 Rafale advanced 4.5 generation aircraft.

Pakistan has 425 combat aircraft, including the Chinese-origin F-7PG, Sino-Pac JF-17 and American F-16C/D Fighting Falcon jets.

JF-17 of Pakistan Air Force, capable of delivering CM-400AKG Cruise Missiles and armed with SD-10A BVRAAM.

It also has seven airborne early warning and control aircraft, three more than India, IISS said.

“The (Pakistan) air force is modernising its inventory while improving its precision-strike and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities,” IISS said in its 2019 assessment.


India’s navy consists of one aircraft carrier, 16 submarines, 14 destroyers, 13 frigates, 106 patrol and coastal combatant vessels, and 75 combat-capable aircraft.

It has 67,700 personnel, including marines and naval aviation staff.

Pakistan, which has a significantly smaller coastline, has 9 frigates, 8 submarines, 17 patrol and coastal vessels, and 8 combat-capable aircraft.


Country:India (IN)Pakistan (PK)
Capital:New DelhiIslamabad
Population:1 276 267 000199 085 847
Area:3 287 590 km2796 095 km2
Military budget:55,9 billion $10,8 billion $
Percent of GDP:2,5%2,9%
Active personnel:2 140 000653 800
Reserve personnel:1 155 000513 000
Available for military:319 129 42048 453 305

Land Forces

Tanks:4 4262 735
Armoured fighting vehicles:5 6813 066
Total artillery:5 0673 745
Self-propelled artillery:290325
Rocket artillery:292134

Air Forces

Total aircraft:2 2161 143
Fighter aircraft:323186
Multirole aircraf:329225
Attack aircraft:22090


Total naval:214231

India vs Pakistan Infographics


The adversarial relationship between India and Pakistan makes the Indian subcontinent one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The disparity in forces, war plans on both sides, and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons makes a regional nuclear war—even a limited one—a real possibility.

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