Which Countries Could Defeat Australia In A War? We Find Out

Australia is one of the largest countries in the world. It’s also a highly developed and rich nation. However, Australia has a tiny population, especially compared to its size. So what does this mean for Australia’s national defence? As tensions in the Indo-Pacific rise, Australia is seeing greater threats closer to home. If these tensions turned to conflict, what would the likely outcome for Australia be? Is there a country that could defeat Australia in a war?

Australia has a small armed forces and could de defeated by many countries. America, China, Russia, India, Vietnam and North Korea all have enormous armies compared to Australia and would almost definitely win a war against it.

… but that’s just an overview. If we really want to know if Australia can be defeated in a war, and by which countries, we need to look at the data.

Is There A Country That Could Defeat Australia?

Australia’s military is tiny by global standards. This is partly due to the country’s small population. However, one result of this is that many other nations could, quite easily, win a war against Australia, including China and India.

In order to assess fully which countries would win a war against Australia, we need to compare the strength of the Australian armed forces against those of other nations. It’s clear that any country with a significantly larger military would be able to defeat Australia.

Below is a comparison table of the Australian military’s strength against some of the larger global military powers.

CountryNumber of Active-Duty SoldiersNumber of ReservistsNumber of Main Battle TanksNumber of Combat AircraftNumber of Warships
United States1,388,100844,0506,2092,628490
North Korea1,280,000600,0003,500537630
All data from Wikipedia.

America has an enormous army compared to Australia – over 1.3 million more active-duty personnel. The US has over one hundred times the number of tanks, over thirty times the number of fighter jets and more than ten times the number of warships than Australia does. There is essentially no way Australia could win a war against the US.

China also has a massive military when compared to Australia. China has millions more troops – both active duty and reserves, as well as thousands more tanks, aircraft and warships. Like America, China could easily defeat Australia in war.

India is another major miliary power that would almost certainly win a war against Australia. The Australian military has far fewer soldiers, tanks, aircraft and ships than India.

Russia also has a much bigger military than Australia. With seventeen times the number of frontline soldiers, and over sixty times the number of reservists, Russia could deploy a force that Australia could not resist. Russia also has thousands more tanks, jets and warships, meaning it would almost certainly defeat Australia in a war.

Vietnam’s army is big, but its enormous size increases further when its reserve troops are also taken into consideration. However, even without including Vietnam’s reserves, the country’s active-duty personnel, as well as its large tank corps, air force and navy, means it could easily win a war against Australia.

North Korea’s military may be less well-equipped and well-trained than Australia’s. However, it is massively bigger. In fact, the DPRK has more than twenty times the number of troops that Australia does. The sheer size of the North Korean army means it would quite easily defeat Australia in a war.

Is There A Country In Oceania That Could Win A War Against Australia?

Ok, so we’ve looked at Australia’s military strength and compared it to that of the major global military powers. By doing this is clear that many countries could quite easily defeat Australia in a war. But realistically, all of these countries are far from Australia and its almost impossible to conceive a war breaking out between most of them. However, what about in Australia’s own region? Are there any countries in Oceania that could win a war against Australia?

Below is a table comparing the military strengths of countries in Oceania against Australia’s.

CountryNumber of Active-Duty SoldiersNumber of ReservistsNumber of Main Battle TanksNumber of Combat AircraftNumber of Warships
New Zealand9,2153,030048 
Papua New Guinea3,6000004
All data from Wikipedia.

It is obvious from the data that no country in Oceania has a military anywhere near the size of Australia’s. In fact, many countries in Oceania only have very small defense forces, and some don’t even have militaries at all. Although Australia has a small armed forces compared to many other nations in the world, in their own region, they are by far the strongest military power. It’s clear that Australia could not be defeated by any country in Oceania.

How Hard Would Australia Be To Defeat In A War?

Although Australia has a small military, it would actually be a hard country to defeat in a war. This is mainly because Australia is an enormous island nation, making it difficult to invade, but also because Australia has strong alliances with major military powers such as the US.

Australia’s location makes it very hard to attack. As an island, over 3,000 miles away from the nearest other nation, means that any army attacking Australia would need to land on its shores. This would be incredibly difficult.

The geography of Australia is another reason why it would be hard to defeat in a war. Australia has large deserts, with limited food and water. Australia is also a massive territory, covering 2,968 million miles square. These factors combined mean that any country that went to war with Australia would need massive, and vulnerable, supply lines. This would give an attacking nation a huge disadvantage and could help Australia win a war.

Australia is a seen as a key nation of the Western world. Although Australia is not part of NATO or any other formal defensive alliance, the country is closely tied to other Western nations including America, Canada, and the UK. Australia also has close ties with the EU. If Australia went to war, its highly likely these nations would assist Australia. This would make Australia very hard to defeat.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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