Japan Announces Both Helicopter Carriers will Deploy for Annual Regional Deployment

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) will conduct the eighth iteration of its regional naval deployment, according to a statement released on April 16th. The exercise, called the Indo-Pacific Deployment 2024 (IPD24), is aimed at improving the JMSDF’s tactical capabilities and strengthening cooperation with allied partner navies in the Indo-Pacific region through joint exercises.

The Exercise

The exercise’s second objective is to contribute to the region’s peace and stability and to enhance mutual understanding and relationships with partner navies through the deployment. The statement said the naval deployment will begin on May 3rd and end on December 15, 2024.

The statement said the naval deployment will begin on May 3rd and end on December 15, 2024. The following vessels will participate in the exercise: one Osumi-class LPD, the JS Kunisaki; one Murasame-class destroyer, the JS Ariake; one Maya-class guided destroyer, the JS Haguro; and one Mogami-class frigate, the JS Noshiro. Also among the vessels slated to participate in the exercise are the two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers [carriers], JS Izumo and JS Kaga.

The vessels will carry at least two special boarding units during the deployment. Furthermore, at least two P-1 anti-submarine warfare/maritime patrol aircraft as well as an unspecified number of submarines.

The flotilla is slated to visit at least 13 countries, such as Australia, French Polynesia, India, the Philippines, several Pacific Island Countries (PIC), such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, and the United States. However, the statement said that the number of states the flotilla will visit is to be determined, and the JMSDF is coordinating with their counterparts in other countries.

The vessels will also participate in the following exercises: Kakadu 2024, Malabar 2024, Marara 24, RIMPAC 2024, Royal Tongan Navy’s 50th Anniversary Fleet Review, Pacific Dragon 2024, Pacific Partnership 2024, and Pacific Vanguard 2024.

Analysis

While the JMSDF’s naval deployment is routine, this is the first time that the branch will conduct dual carrier operations in the region. The deployment will allow the JS Izumo and JS Kaga to conduct tests and evaluations of the carriers during their first operational cruise. Furthermore, the JMSDF pilots would also gain significant experience in operating the F-35Bs in an operational environment. The tests and evaluations as well as the experience will be used to develop and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures to effectively operate F-35Bs from the carriers. The vessels would also allow Japan to conduct joint carrier exercises and operations with Australia and the United States during the deployment.

The joint exercises and operations would allow the Japanese pilots to learn from and receive mentorship from their counterparts in the Royal Australian and U.S. Navies. The JMSDF would also gain expertise in operating a carrier group not only in the South Pacific, but also in the Indian Ocean. This expertise would enable the service to re-establish their carrier capability in a more rapid timeframe by exposing them to various environments and flying conditions. However, the most significant part of both carriers’ deployment during IPD24 is their visit to various PICs, which would allow Japan to increase its influence in the region as China is attempting to do the same. However, Japan would likely downplay the carriers’ deployment to prevent China from using it as part of its narrative that Japan is embracing militarism again.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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