Prioria Robotics has begun training the Joint Special Operations Task Force on its small, tube-launched Maveric unmanned air vehicle.
In September, the Florida company won a $4.5 million contract from the US Army Rapid Equipping Force for 12 systems, totalling 36 UAVs and ground control stations.
"There was a Special Operations requirement for a plane that had a natural, biological look – it wasn't supposed to look DoD-ish," says Derek Lyons, vice-president of sales and business development at Prioria.
Such requirements, including an emphasis on portability, favoured the Maveric, which is shaped like a bird and weighs 1.13kg (2.5lb).
Prioria officials now hope to leverage this win for programmes like the lethal miniature aerial munition system (LMAMS), which is seeking a mini-drone kitted with a 40mm warhead.
However, Lyons admits that it will be an uphill battle to secure LMAMS, which is set to be a funded programme in fiscal year 2016.
AeroVironment is the clear frontrunner for that contract, given continued purchases of its Switchblade system by and on behalf of the Close Combat Weapons Systems Project Office, within the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space.
These purchases "affect LMAMS because there's a certain amount of past performance that Switchblade will be able to get that no-one else will have", Lyons says. He also notes that the more AeroVironment entrenches itself in LMAMS, the higher the bar is set for what is required to unseat the incumbent platform.
Other companies considering the LMAMS programme include IATech, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Textron Defense.