The leaders of the United States and Australia agreed Wednesday to expand defense cooperation with Japan to include unmanned aerial vehicles as Washington continues to bolster relations with its Asia-Pacific allies and partners to maintain its edge in the face of China's growing military might.

Following a meeting at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the three-way partnership aims to enhance interoperability and accelerate technology transfer in the rapidly emerging field of “collaborative combat aircraft and autonomy,” — a U.S. Air Force concept referring to autonomous drone operations and manned-unmanned teaming.

No further details were provided, but the announcement comes after the Pentagon unveiled its “Replicator” initiative last month: a radical new strategy focused on fielding thousands of cheap autonomous drones within 18 to 24 months to counter China’s military advantage in personnel and manned equipment.