The U.S. Marine Corps and its helicopter carriers arrived off the Philippines within a week of the area being hit with the most powerful typhoon on record. On those carriers were 14 MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The 27 ton MV-22B cruises at 445 kilometers an hour and its endurance is about 3.5 hours per sortie. The MV-22B can carry up to 32 troops (even more civilians) or 9 tons of cargo. Able to take off and land like a helicopter then fly like a fixed wing aircraft, the MV-22s are replacing some older CH-53 helicopters, which move at half the speed of the MV-22. That speed proved to be a major advantage in combat. But the MV-22 is more expensive to operate and this disaster relief operation in the Philippines will show if the speed if useful outside of combat as well. Meanwhile, the marines are still producing heavy transport helicopters. The new CH-53K is 16 percent heavier (at 42.3 tons) than the current CH-53E and able to carry nearly twice as much (13.5 tons). The CH-53K will be much easier to maintain and cost about half as much per flight hour to operate. Thus, the CH-53 can haul cargo at half the cost but at half the speed.
In the Philippines each MV-22 takes a few tons of supplies a day and goes off to visit a long list of isolated villages and drop off some supplies in each. The key need in the Philippines right after the typhoon hit (and killed over 5,000 people) on November 8th was food, medical supplies, and other emergency items. Many people were in isolated rural villages, away from the coast, and with roads blocked. The MV-22s and helicopters were essential in helping those people and the speed of the MV-22 allowed each aircraft to distribute a few tons of critical supplies to many remote locations each day. The MV-22 was also used to move casualties to temporary hospitals.