Cooperation between the U.S. and its allies and partners, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific, will be critical for Washington's new Replicator initiative to succeed, experts say, as the Pentagon seeks to negate China's military advantage in numbers by fielding thousands of smart, affordable drones.

But questions remain about how much technology Washington will be willing to share without the risk of compromising the high degree of cybersecurity the new artificial intelligence-enabled systems will depend on.

“We will be working with industry, Congress and allies and partners in everything that we do,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, who is heading up the initiative, said Sept. 6, as experts highlighted an array of possible collaboration opportunities.