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20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force

In this article, we look at 20 countries with the most bombers and superior air force. You can skip our detailed overview of trends in the aerospace industry and directly head over to the 5 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force.

Countries around the world are upgrading their air forces with fleets of newer, advanced fighter jets and bombers to enhance their aerial capabilities. These aircraft play a key role in securing control over enemy airspace. According to Flight Global, there were 53,265 military aircraft in the world in 2022, with a quarter (25%) of them being flown by the United States, followed by Russia (8%) and China (6%). A recent report by the Military Embedded Systems noted that about 39% of the world’s fighter jets are also operated by the United States, with China at a distant second at 24.4%. These statistics speak volumes of Washington’s aerial superiority over its rivals, which is likely to continue given the current trends.

Work is already underway in the United States to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet to replace the F-22 Raptor, built by Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), by 2030. The highly classified Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program launched by the US Air Force (USAF) in 2014 is likely to cost $16 billion between 2023 and 2028, with a request for $1.7 billion put forward by the USAF to allocate in its FY24 budget.

In August 2022, Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), and RTX Corporation (NYSE:RTX)’s subsidiary Pratt & Whitney received contracts worth $975 million each to work on NGAD over the following ten years.

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The Americans are also ahead in the race when it comes to bomber aircraft, which are designed to launch air-to-ground bombs to strike surface targets. The US has built 744 B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers to-date, of which about 76 are still flying today. Designed in 1952 by The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), the aircraft can carry up to 32,000 kilograms of weapons, with a combat range of 14,200 kilometers without requiring aerial refueling. The B-52 has been a symbol of American strength for decades now, and was recently sent to Iraq and Syria to crush ISIS. As of 2012, the price of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber was estimated to be $84 million.

Around 45 B-1 Lancer bombers are also in the current fleet of the USAF. Introduced in the 1970s, these were manufactured by Rockwill International until their B-1 division was acquired by The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), which has since been the primary contractor for this aircraft. The aircraft is powered by General Electric Company (NYSE:GE)’s F101-GE-102 afterburning turbofan engines.

The most recent bomber aircraft in use by the USAF are the B-2 Spirit, manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) during the 1980s. About 21 units of the aircraft have been built to-date, with each unit costing around $280 million. These strategic bombers of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) come with low-observable stealth technology which enable the bombers to penetrate even dense anti-aircraft defenses.

20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force
20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force

Methodology

Since there are just a handful of countries that currently have bombers, we have factored in the advancement of fighter jets of different air forces to compile a list of 20. Countries that are equipped with bombers are ranked higher than those that have none. For the latter, we have considered the strength of fighter jets, with our main focus being on the number of fourth-generation and fifth-generation fighter jets operated by their air forces. The aircraft fleet size of air forces are also part of our analysis.

Weights were assigned to metrics that were considered for this article. 50% to fifth-generation fighter jets, 40% to fourth-generation fighter jets, and 10% to the air force’s fleet size of aircraft. Weighted scores for these metrics were then aggregated to get an overall score. 20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force are ranked in ascending order of their overall scores – with countries with bombers taking the top spots.

Data on advanced fighter jets was sourced from FlightGlobal’s Flight International publication titled World Air Forces 2023. For the fleet size of air forces, we referred to our recent article on the 20 Largest Air Forces in the World Heading into 2024, while Military Embedded Systems' report The global market for fighter planes and bombers was consulted for the number of bombers for each country.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

Let’s now head over to the list of countries with the most bombers and superior air force.

Top 20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force:

20. Norway

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 24

Air Force Fleet: 110

Score: 0.066

Norway has 24 F-35 fighter jets in its arsenal. The Norwegian Air Force also operates 5 737 (P-8A) (MPA) and 3 P-3C/N (MPA) aircraft which it uses for special missions. It does not operate any bombers.

19. Netherlands

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 47

Air Force Fleet: 171

Score: 0.107

Next up on our list is the Netherlands, whose air force is equipped with 18 F-35A fighter jets and another 26 pending delivery. The country also has 29 F-16A fighters. The Dutch air force is among the most advanced in the world, despite a relatively small fleet size.

18. Canada

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 63

Air Force Fleet: 395

Score: 0.121

While Canada’s air force does not have bombers, it is well equipped with combat and special mission aircraft. The country operates 63 F/A-18A fighter jets. In January 2023, the Canadian government placed an order for 88 F-35 fifth-generation fighters from Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) to enhance its aerial capabilities.

17. Taiwan

Bombers: None 

Advanced Fighter Jets: 110

Air Force Fleet: 518

Score: 0.132

Taipei has focused on building a strong air force due to the perceived existential threat it faces from China. Taiwan’s air force has a sizable fleet of 518 aircraft, which includes 110 F-16 fighter jets built by General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), with another 56 on order according to FlightGlobal.

16. Germany

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 134

Air Force Fleet: 394

Score: 0.142

While Germany’s fleet size is not as big as some of the other powerful countries in the world, a major chunk of it comprises the Eurofighter Typhoon – one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. The 4.5 generation, twin-engine supersonic jet costs between $117-124 million per unit. Germany’s combat aircraft fleet also includes 75 Tornado IDS. The country placed an order worth $8.83 billion to procure 35 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) in December 2022.

15. Turkiye

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 157

Air Force Fleet: 618

Score: 0.148

Turkiye has one of the most advanced air forces in the world, with a fleet size of over 600 aircraft. These include 157 F-16 fighter jets made by General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) and 48 F-4E among other military aircraft. The Turkish Air Force also operates 7 KC-135R tankers.

14. Pakistan

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 159

Air Force Fleet: 818

Score: 0.158

Pakistan has one of the strongest air forces in the world, whose capabilities were on display exactly four years ago in the 2019 dogfight against arch-rival India in the disputed region of Kashmir. The country’s air force has a fleet size of 818, which includes prominent combat aircraft, including 44 F-16, 6 J-10, and 109 JF-17 fighter jets, among others.

13. Italy

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 107

Air Force Fleet: 506

Score: 0.184

The Italian air force operated several light to medium bombers during World War II, including the Savoia-Marchetti, CANT Z.506 Airone, Caproni Ca.135, and others. Currently, Italy does not have a bomber in its air force fleet of 506 aircraft. It still, however, boasts one of the most powerful air forces in the world with 15 F-35, 50 Tornado IDS, and 92 Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.

12. Egypt

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 192

Air Force Fleet: 1,122

Score: 0.196

Egypt has the fifth largest air force in the world, with 1,122 aircraft – of which, 420 are combat aircraft, including 24 Dassault Rafale and 168 F-16 fighter jets. The country’s aerial capabilities will further be strengthened with the addition of 26 Su-35 fighters as part of a $2 billion deal signed between Egypt and Russia in 2018.

11. France

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 226

Air Force Fleet: 658

Score: 0.203

France has a well-developed aerospace industry at home, with companies such as Dassault Aviation that is famed for being the builder of the Rafale fighter jet, along with Mirage 2000-5F and Mirage 2000D. The French Air Force has 135 Rafales, with another 120 being under development. 

10. Saudi Arabia

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 283

Air Force Fleet: 702

Score: 0.249

Saudi Arabia is the fifth largest spender on military equipment, as of 2022. Half of its air force fleet comprises combat aircraft, which include 283 advanced fighter jets. It has one of the strongest air forces in the world.

9. United Kingdom

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 145

Air Force Fleet: 466

Score: 0.260

The Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom operates 119 Eurofighter Typhoon and 26 F-35B fighter jets, as of 2022. James Cartlidge, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, last month restated his country’s commitment to procure another 138 F-35 fighters from Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT). You can read more on the story here

8. India

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 284

Air Force Fleet: 1,645

Score: 0.290

India is among the most prominent air forces in the world that is without a bomber. However, it has a rich history of using ‘heavy bombers’ which led the country to victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. Currently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has a fleet size of 1,645 aircraft, which includes impressive fighter jets such as the Su-30 and Dassault Rafale.

7. Australia

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 72

Air Force Fleet: 296

Score: 0.305

Australia has one of the most superior air forces in the world, with a fleet of 296 aircraft – a quarter of which is made up of advanced fighter jets. The Australian Air Force currently operates 48 Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) F-35A fighters, with another 37 on order according to FlightGlobal. It also flies 24 F/A-18F built by The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA).

6. Japan

Bombers: None

Advanced Fighter Jets: 182

Air Force Fleet: 779

Score: 0.307

Japan has the ninth largest air force in the world in terms of fleet size, and is equipped with some of the most advanced fighter jets currently operating. Its fleet size includes 27 F-35s (with another 119 in order), 62 F-2A, and 155 F-15J. Japan in November 2023 received a delivery of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jets but the number of aircraft delivered was not revealed.

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Disclosure: None. 20 Countries with Most Bombers and Superior Air Force is originally published on Insider Monkey.