The US Navy is developing specifications for a due regard radar that could replace the system dropped from the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton last year, says Capt Jim Hoke.

A stop-work order was issued by the service to contractor Exelis on the original due regard radar last year after technical challenges and cost increases, Hoke says.

Although Exelis was struggling to meet the specification, some naval officials believe the original specification demanded too much performance from the system.

“When we think about what we’re designing the radar to do it’s far superior to what I was ever able to do as a pilot,” says Hoke, who formerly flew Lockheed P-3C Orions.

The due regard radar is a sensor dedicated to preventing the unmanned MQ-4C from colliding with aircraft operating without self-identifying transponders.

The Triton uses a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) transponder to keep track of aircraft with transponders.

“We will find a radar system that will handle those non-squawkers,” Hoke says. “But we do have layers of protection better than any unmanned aircraft today.”

Hoke has tasked his office with developing new specifications for a radar with reduced capability that could be achievable with today’s technology for an affordable price, while the navy evaluates the way forward.

The MQ-4C programme is expected to launch operations in 2017 with two aircraft, although initial operational capability with four aircraft will come in 2018.