Imagine the following not-too-far-fetched scenario:
A 5th generation jet fighter is engaging in a battle-zone in a close air support role. A small squad-sized ground force is pinned down, unable to maneuver without taking heavy losses from air attack. Each squad member reaches into their pack to pull out their ‘small air buddy.’ They hand toss them into the air. The situation is communicated to the lead air unit, which disseminates the the intent to obstruct the engaged fighter to the other small air units, decentralizing command and control. The units monitor the fighter flight path using available network information and onboard SAR sensors. As a group they begin to fly up to obstruct the flight path of the fighter patrolling above. They position themselves in a configuration that has the highest probability of intercepting the fighter flight path. When the fighter proximity is detected, the small swarm all detonate small on-board charges, sending shrapnel into the fuselage and into the jet intakes. The fighter is disabled and is forced to return immediately to base.
For about the cost of a compact car, the combat effectiveness of an aircraft worth hundreds of millions of dollars is negated. Now, extrapolate the same concept across the battle-space. Are large expensive, complex, discrete (non-distributed) weapons systems even viable in the future?
Do we mitigate or exploit this scenario? Or both?