Helicopter maker Leonardo says it has entered exploratory discussions with the U.S. Army to investigate potential missions for its AW609 commercial tiltrotor.

The talks emerged because of the Defense Department’s wider interest in potential roles for smaller-model tiltrotor aircraft, according to Roberto Garavaglia, the company’s vice president for strategy and business development. He said those discussions could lead to Leonardo providing one of the prototypes to the AMRDEC agency after the aircraft has achieved civil certification.

There has been no discussion on what kind of missions the aircraft could fulfill. However, Leonardo is unable to offer an armed version of the AW609 due to contractual issues with Bell Helicopter, which had 50% stake in the program until 2012.

Three operators have been involved in the defining of mission sets for the aircraft. The United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command, the only firm customer to day, intends to use three of them for search and rescue. Bristow is focusing on the oil-and-gas support mission. And Era Group has been looking at emergency medical operations.