Richard Melson

March 2006

Strategic Assessment II

Middle East Military Balance

The Military Forces
Tables and Charts
Glossary of Weapon Systems

Introductory Note

Welcome to the internet version of the Middle East Military Balance.

The Middle East Military Balance

has been the most authoritative source on Middle Eastern Armies since 1983.

Now it is presented to the public, in full text, and regular updates in PDF format.

In the tables you will find detailed data on the order of battle of the various countries,

as well as data about arms production, acquisition and sales.

Following is some general information regarding the tables.

General information
Definitions and Criteria

Military acquisitions and sales
Armored Fighting Vehicles
Air Defense
Combat Aircraft
Note on Symbols
Economic Data

General information

The table representing the order of battle of each country reviewed usually gives two numbers for each weapon category. The first number refers to quantities in active service, whereas the second number (in parentheses) refers to the total inventory.

We have incorporated Charts representing distribution of weapon systems in three distincts region of the Middle East

The regions are:

Definitions and Criteria

Since we present in the following tables only aggregate numbers of major types of weapon systems – the following criteria refer to data presented in the following charts.
These same criteria are applicable to the data presented on-line as well.

Military acquisitions and sales

Data on military acquisitions and sales as well as on security assistance is limited to information pertaining to the past five years. The year in parentheses in these sections always refer to the most recent information on an entry.


Tanks are divided into two main categories: light tanks (under 25 tons) and main battle tanks (MBTs). High quality MBTs and other MBTs are also differentiated. The criteria for "high quality" are any three of the following attributes:

120mm (or higher) caliber gun.

A power plant of more than 900hp and/or power-to-weight ratio of 19 hp/t or better.

Reactive or modular armor

A capability to fire barrel launched AT missiles.

An advanced fire control system, with tracking capability.

Under this categorization some versions of the T-72 MBT are categorized as "high quality," although they are not necessarily on par with tanks like the M1A1 or the Merkava Mk III.

Armored Fighting Vehicles

AFVs are divided into three categories:

Armored personnel carriers – armored vehicles designed to carry several infantrymen, armed with light weapons only.

Infantry fighting vehicles – armored vehicles built to carry several infantrymen, armed with heavier weapons, like guns or missiles.

Reconnaissance vehicles – armored vehicles of various sizes and armament, designed to carry a small crew of weapon operators (but not intended for dismounted infantry fighting).

It should be noted that the dividing lines between the categories are not well-defined, and sometimes it is difficult to decide how a certain vehicle should be categorized. For example, heavier reconnaissance vehicles can be categorized as light tanks, especially when they use tracks rather than wheels.

Air Defense

Some militaries in the region have a separate Air Defense arm. In other countries, air defense equipment is divided between the Air Force and the Ground Forces. In this volume all air defense weapon systems are aggregated into one sub-section in each chapter, regardless of the organizational distribution of the weapon systems.

Air defense equipment is categorized as follows:

Shoulder-launched missiles

Light SAMs – with a range up to 12 km, self propelled or towed

Mobile Medium SAMs – self-propelled, with a range of 12 – 30 km

Medium to heavy SAMs – stationary or towed systems with a range of 12 – 30 km, or any system with a range of more than 30 km.

Other systems – AA guns and combined systems

For heavy and medium SAMs, numbers are given according to the number of independent fire units. For the sake of brevity we calculate the number of batteries for smaller SAMs (although in these types usually each launcher can operate independently). The same method is used to build up the charts.

Combat Aircraft

Combat aircraft are divided into the following categories:


Multi-role (high quality and others)

Ground attack


Note on Symbols

In this volume we use several symbols to denote instances where accurate data is not available:


Data not available. This symbol is used in the economic data tables only.


The tilda is used in front of a number to denote inaccurate number.


The weapon system is known to be in use, but the quantity is not known.


There is doubt whether the weapon system exists in the order-of-battle.


The weapons system exists but known to be not in use.

Economic Data

The tables on economic data include data on GDP (in current US dollars) and defense expenditure only.
Data on military expenditures in the Middle East are notoriously elusive. Hence it should be regarded, at best, as indicators of trends.
Sources for the economic data are EIU Country Profiles, EIU Quarterly Reports, IMF International Financial Statistical Yearbook, and SIPRI Yearbook.


The hard work of compiling, updating and setting the data was done by Avi Mor and Tamir Magal, to whom I owe greatly. Withal, I alone bear responsibility for any inaccuracies.

Yiftah S.Shapir

Dear Subscriber,

I am pleased to inform you that The Middle East Strategic Balance 2004-2005, edited by Zvi Shtauber and Yiftah Shapir, has just been published by Sussex Academic Press and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies.

This new book includes six analytical chapters that focus on regional developments connected with Israel's strategic options. Among the prominent subjects examined are democratization processes in the Middle East, the ongoing instability in Iraq, Iran's approach to nuclear capability, international terrorism, developments in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, and rising oil prices.

The analytical portion of the book is followed by an overview of the region's military forces, including the major changes in the orders of battle and the key components of their force structures. Detailed data regarding the inventories of military forces is available on the:

JCSS website at .

The Middle East Strategic Balance 2004-2005

can be purchased directly from:

Sussex Academic Press, with purchase information available at:

Selections from the book,

including the Table of Contents and the Introduction,

can be found on the JCSS website.


Moshe Grundman

Director of Publications

The Middle East Strategic Balance 2004-2005

Moshe Grundman jcss2@POST.TAU.AC.IL

On Behalf Of TAU Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies


Thu, 24 Nov 2005

March 26, 2006