The world’s air forces are not just made up of fighter and ground attack aircraft. Transport aircraft – from adapted civilian ones to those designed specifically for military use – are also an important part of the inventory of the world’s military forces.
Check out which countries have the largest number of military transport aircraft in the world. The data are from the World Air Forces 2022 yearbook.
- United States
The country with the largest force of fighter aircraft in the world, the United States also stands out for transport aviation. There are 982 aircraft, or 23% of the total employed by the world’s military forces.
The country’s main transport aircraft is the four-engine turboprop Lockheed C-130 Hercules, which has more than 360 units in service of various versions dedicated solely to transporting cargo and soldiers.
Russia takes the second position in this ranking, with 445 aircraft dedicated for transportation and divided between the Air Force and Naval Aviation. The country’s most numerous transport aircraft is the Antonov An-26, with 115 units in the Air Force and 24 in the Navy (a number that also includes the An-24, the aircraft that gave birth to the model).
The aircraft is a civilian twin-engine turboprop adapted for military use and was produced until the 1980s, being capable of carrying up to 40 passengers and 5,500 kg of cargo. The most ironic thing is that the aircraft was produced in Ukraine, a country currently at war with Russia.
With a fleet of 286 transport aircraft, China’s main military cargo and passenger aircraft is the Shaanxi Y-8, with 84 units in service in the Air Force and Army.
The Chinese-made four-engine turboprop is based on the Soviet Antonov An-12 design from the 1950s. It can carry about 90 equipped soldiers or 20,000 kg of cargo and is still in production in the Asian country.
Just like its combat aviation, India’s military transport force, with 253 aircraft, also has aircraft of diverse origins, mixing European, American and Soviet types.
The country’s most numerous transport aircraft is the Soviet Antonov An-32, an aircraft that is basically an An-26 with new engines. There are 103 aircraft in service, which can carry up to 42 paratroopers or 6,700 kg of cargo.
With its continental dimensions, it would not be surprising if Brazil also appeared alongside other nations with large territories on this list. In all, the Brazilian Air Force operates 125 transport aircraft.
The aircraft present in greatest number is the twin-engine Brazilian Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante, with 45 units in service. It can carry up to 12 passengers and has been in use in Brazilian military aviation since 1973, where it is known as the C-95.