Technology undoubtedly matters, but only rarely in the sense that an isolated technological achievement lends decisive advantage in tactical engagements. Rather, technological innovations and choices shape the ways in which military organizations, and the broader defense-industrial complex, approach the prospect of war. Each of these systems involved a radical rethink of organizational roles and priorities, and the cancelation of each left huge holes in capabilities, holes that continue to be filled in novel ways.
This article concentrates on five systems that died, but that might have had transformative effects if they had survived. These transformations would only rarely have changed the course of wars (countries win and lose wars for many reasons besides technology), but rather would have had ripple effects across the entire defense industrial base, altering how our military organizations approached warfighting and procurement. Not all the changes would have been for the best; sometimes programs are canceled for sound reasons.