IPD is a multi-month long deployment activity conducted annually by the JMSDF in the Indo-Pacific region, and has become an important event for Japan’s presence in the region. The IPD will last approximately four months, from June 13 to October 28, and will involve the 1st Surface Unit, formed by DDH Izumo and destroyer Takanami, and the 2nd Surface Unit of destroyer Kirisame, as well as one submarine, a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, UP-3D electronic warfare training support aircraft, and US-2 rescue aircraft.
Noteworthy about this year’s IPD is that the vessels and aircraft participating in this deployment will also be participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC). This is the first time an Izumo class DDH will participate in RIMPAC. Furthermore, the Izumo has completed the first phase of its modification to operate the F-35B in 2021, and it will be interesting to see if the USMC F-35B will land and launch on the occasion of the RIMPAC. As already reported by Naval News, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) will also send its largest naval vessel, the ROKS Marado, to this year’s RIMPAC. This means that the largest naval vessels of each of Japan and South Korea will be assembled in one place.
In the past, Izumo class DDH has always participated in IPD, however, this time, unlike previous years, the F-35B will be able to operate from JS Izumo. During IPD, JMSDF ships and aircraft will participate in various training exercises with other countries in addition to RIMPAC. If the USS Tripoli, which is currently deployed in the Indo-Pacific region, were to participate in joint training exercises in which the U.S. Navy will be involved, it is conceivable that the F-35Bs on board the ship could conduct landing and takeoff training on Izumo. According to JMSDF, the exercises in which the deployed units are currently scheduled to participate are as follows,
・Pacific Partnership 2022 (An event presided over by the U.S. military that includes medical and cultural exchange activities within the Indo-Pacific region.)
・PACIFIC VANGUARD 22 (joint exercise between Japan, the United States, Australia and South Korea)
・JIMEX (Japan-India Joint Exercise)
・KAKADU 2022 (A multilateral joint exercise presided over by the Royal Australian Navy)
・Exercise SAMASAMA/LUMBAS (A multilateral joint exercise presided over by the U.S., Australia, and the Philippines).
The modification of the Izumo class DDH to carry the F-35B has as its main objective the strengthening of Japan’s air defense structure in the Pacific, but some believe that it is also intended to support F-35B operations by the US Navy and Marine Corps and to further strengthen Japan’s presence with IPD. It can be said that this year’s IPD was the first step toward this end.