I've commented before about the dangers to US and European forces posed by high-technology weapons proliferating around the world. Terrorist movements now use anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles with virtual impunity (see, for example, Hezbollah - despite Israel trying to bomb every convoy that delivers such weapons to them, inevitably some get through). So-called 'rogue' nations are striving to develop weapons that can target their enemies at a distance, some equipped with weapons of mass destruction. (See, for example, North Korea.)
To make matters more complicated, many nations are now developing for themselves the technologies that the US has previously relied on to give it an edge. Unmanned aerial vehicles equiped with laser- and GPS-guided bombs, and other cutting-edge equipment, are now commonplace. To name but a few examples:
- Drones similar in capability to the US Predator and Reaper UAV's have been developed in Israel, China, South Africa and several other nations. More advanced drones are in development by multiple nations (see, for example, this joint European program).
- The decades-old Hydra 70mm. rocket has been turned into a precision weapon by the development of guidance kits, which are being produced in several countries. This weapon can be found all around the globe in huge quantities. Now, by simply buying a guidance kit, any country can make it far more lethal. What's more, the proliferation of such small electronic devices is very hard to track, as they're often listed simply as 'electronics' in international trade documentation - so one can't be sure whether or not a potential enemy has them.
- The US JDAM guided bomb kit has been copied and/or emulated by several countries, including Russia, China, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, India, Turkey and others.
- The US Hellfire missile has been duplicated (and sometimes exceeded in performance) by other countries. One example is South Africa's Mokopa missile. There are several more.
Many of these, and many other smart weapons, are available for sale to anyone with enough money and the right political connections. Some countries will ask fewer questions than others, and are willing to assist nations and movements that share their theological and/or ideological perspective, whether or not such assistance is legal (or desirable to the rest of the world).
The latest example of this technological proliferation is Turkey's launch of a Roketsan MAM-L miniaturized guided weapon from its indigenous Bayraktar TB2 UAV. Here's a video clip of the test.
Note that the Erdogan government in Turkey (which is notoriously corrupt) is Islamist in orientation. That would suggest that weapons systems like the MAM-L are likely to be made available to countries and movements with a similar outlook, with few or no questions asked. (Consider, for example, Turkey's support for ISIL. Think of the havoc that terrorist movement could wreak with UAV's and/or 'smart weapons' at its disposal!)
US forces are going to have to learn to fight in a world where their enemies are increasingly likely to have the same precision targeting and attack capabilities as themselves. That's not going to be a pleasant experience for those on the receiving end.