Methodology for Calculating Military Output
Comparing the performance of one country’s armed forces with another’s involves both art and science, in part because data on budgets, equipment, and personnel are not always available, reliable, or reported in a comparable way. To develop our benchmarks, our research departments in various countries scoured public data sources and made a number of assumptions to normalize the data. A key part of our analysis was the creation of a new metric for measuring the performance of military equipment.
To calculate military equipment output, we first gathered data on several countries’ active equipment inventory—specifically, how many serviceable units of each type of equipment a country has in each of its armed services (for example, the number of submarines in the navy, the number of main battle tanks in the army). This exercise proved challenging because countries report inventories in many different ways—for example, some include only active equipment while others include equipment for reserves.
Then, using the average equipment mix of the United Kingdom and France as our ideal target mix (because both countries have a good balance of army, navy, and air force equipment in all major categories and are sizeable enough but not so large as to skew the data), we assigned a relative value to each type of equipment per armed service— determining, for example, that in the navy an aircraft carrier is the equivalent of three submarines or eight surface combat ships. This allowed us to compare armed services regardless of the composition of their equipment portfolio.
By calculating military equipment output for each of the armed services—the army, the navy, and the air force—we were able to make comparisons across countries. Our benchmark shows, for example, that the United States and Russian armies have almost equivalent output levels largely due to the size of the Russian tank fleet, but that the United States Navy and Air Force are far superior to their Russian counterparts—a case of American technology trumping the sheer volume of Russia’s older platforms and aircraft. The navies of the United Kingdom and France are on par with South Korea’s and Japan’s, and Israel’s air force has twice the output of the air forces of France, Germany, and Brazil.
We have deep experience in understanding these issues and helping MoDs and DoDs resolve them. We have successfully collaborated with clients to adopt a whole-life approach to substantially improve equipment acquisition performance. Our goal is to help MoDs and DoDs streamline the acquisitions processes and apply outcomes-based frameworks to managing contractor-supplier relationships.