Since 1959, The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has published The Military Balance, the annual assessment of global military capabilities and defence economics. It is the essential resource for those involved in security policymaking, and an indispensable handbook for anyone conducting serious analysis of military affairs, whether in government, the armed forces, the private sector, academia or the media.

The Military Balance is produced by a dedicated team of professional analysts working in the IISS Defence and Military Analysis Programme (DMAP). DMAP actively develops and maintains links with international defence ministries, military and security forces, and defence industries, as well as members of the expert community. These links, coupled with the strong analytical capacities of its in-house team of specialists, enable it to maintain the high integrity and credibility of its data and assessments.

The Military Balance is available in both print and electronic format. It is also available as a database – the Military Balance+ – which allows users to customise, view, compare and download data instantly, anywhere, anytime.



The Military Balance includes annually-updated regional and selected-country analysis, assessing the principal factors driving defence policy as well as military capability, procurement and defence economics. Thematic sections analyse subjects such as directed-energy weapons, the changing defence-industrial landscape, special-operations forces and cyber deterrence.

The book also contains:

  • A full-colour comparative defence statistics section with graphics showing key data relating to defence economics, defence industry and major land, sea and air capabilities.
  • An extensive selection of regional and country-focused maps, graphics and tables, such as 'the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific: vessel deployments in 2014–20' (pictured) and 'selected French deployments in Africa'.
  • Detailed graphics highlighting major equipment types or platforms, including 'Russia's T-14 Armata main battle tank' and 'the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker E combat aircraft' (pictured).


The Military Balance includes the military forces of 171 countries and selected non-state armed groups. Detailed A–Z country entries, divided by region, illustrate:

  • Forces by role and personnel numbers
  • Paramilitary and reserve forces, and conscription terms
  • National forces stationed abroad and foreign forces stationed within the given country
  • The land and air forces and fleets in Russia’s Military Regions and China’s Theatre Commands

Forces by role lists units and formations categorised by military role – for example special forces, anti-submarine warfare and air defence, among others – and size, such as brigade, squadron or battery.

Whether you are interested in the makeup of the Brazilian Army, the Italian Air Force, India’s Strategic Forces Command, Vietnam’s Coast Guard or Morocco’s Gendarmerie, The Military Balance provides the trusted annual assessment of armed forces worldwide.


The Military Balance lists the equipment inventories of 171 countries. Quantities of armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, ships, submarines, missile launchers, aircraft and more are shown by type and designation. The user can check the size of the United States’ SSBN fleet, the types of armoured vehicles held by the Ukrainian Army or the number of fighter/ground-attack aircraft in China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force. In addition, the strategic equipment holdings of nuclear-capable states are shown, including both air and sea-based launchers.


The Military Balance includes the defence budgets, GDP, growth and inflation rates of 171 states. All country entries are revised each year using IMF data, providing an accurate measure of military expenditure and the allocation of economic resources to defence.


Based on the IISS’s extensive arms-procurements research, regional arms orders and deliveries sections outline significant defence-procurement events and display selected procurement programmes and ongoing or completed procurement priorities. Equipment-focus graphics, such the ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems/Fincantieri Type-212A submarine, are included.

The Military Balance is your reliable source for global arms orders and defence-industry information


The print edition of The Military Balance includes a full-colour wall chart, focusing on such subjects as Russia’s armed forces in 2015, Gulf missile defence in 2016, and US forces in Europe, 1989 and 2017. Bespoke sizes can be accommodated on request.


  • Summaries of national military capability at the start of each country entry, updated annually
  • Information on armed forces in territories not under government control
  • Updated entries relating to national cyber capabilities, including selected cyber forces
  • Selected military training exercises, arranged by region

'Amid continuing conflict and broadening insecurity, The Military Balance provides essential facts and analysis for decision-makers and for better informed public debate.' Dr Robert M. Gates, former US Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence

'Because military affairs are inevitably clouded in fog, the IISS Military Balance is an essential companion for those who seek to understand.' Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, former UK Defence Secretary and Secretary-General of NATO

'The Military Balance is the unique and vital resource on which informed public debate of the world's armed forces is founded. Up-to-date figures and information on defence budgets, procurement totals, equipment holdings, and military deployments are presented clearly and succinctly. In the area of defense information, where nationally produced fictions often masquerade as facts, The Military Balance is the internationally recognized source of record.' William S. Cohen, former US Secretary of Defense

'A seminal event in [the] defence think tank world is the IISS publication of its annual Military Balance, acknowledged as the definitive audit of global military power.'Prospect magazine

The Military Balance is widely recognised as the best unclassified source of defense information on personnel, equipment and budgets for every country.’ Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Director of Central Intelligence and White House Chief of Staff

‘Throughout my career, I have relied extensively on The Military Balance produced so expertly by IISS. It is the “go to” source for serious analysts and warriors facing real world challenges.’ Admiral James Stavridis, USN, Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, 2009–2013, Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

The Military Balance has, for over fifty years, been the go-to source of unclassified, independent information on defense capabilities around the world.’ General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retd)

The Military Balance 2018

The Military Balance is the annual IISS assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries.

From £410.00
Product variations
Online Access, Digital Download & Print £660.00 + shipping (Inc VAT if applicable)
Online Access & Digital Download £410.00 (Inc VAT if applicable)
Print edition £410.00 + shipping (Inc VAT if applicable)


Defence and Military Analysis Programme

Changing threats to global security are forcing constant reassessment of military concepts, structures and technologies. The IISS Defence and Military Analysis Programme (DMAP) examines trends in strategies, capabilities and defence expenditure.