Military & Security

Defense expenditure

Calculating defense spending can be anything but straightforward. We have chosen to use SIPRI’s estimates because they have been generally better systematized than some of the others, but even these should be taken with a grain of salt. If you’d like to know more about the pitfalls of calculating military expenditure, especially across multiple countries, we recommend this helpful explainer by Olga Oliker of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as this cautionary tale by CNA’s Michael Kofman.


Since 2016, the number of U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems have continued to decline, while the number of Russia’s deployed delivery systems has increased slightly. The U.S. is already below New START ceilings for deployed warheads and delivery systems; Russia is below them for deployed delivery systems. As noted by eminent nuclear expert Hans Kristensen, the fact "that Russia currently deploys more nuclear warheads on its strategic launchers than New START allows ... results from an overlap in new systems coming online and old systems getting decommissioned." The deadline for meeting the treaty’s central requirements is Feb. 5, 2018, and Russia can easily fulfill them by then just by retiring or adjusting some Soviet-era MIRV ICBMs.

Source: U.S. State Department. Data current as of April 1, 2017.

Military Personnel