Dragon’s Jaw is the Vietnamese nickname for the Thanh Hóa bridge. During the Vietnam War, American intelligence analysts identified it as one of a number of critical infrastructure targets nominated for US air power to disrupt since it provided Vietnamese logistics support to its war efforts in South Vietnam. Over-engineered when built before the war, and surrounded by tactical air defence systems, the Vietnamese successfully defended this one bridge against multiple US air strikes using ballistic bombs, thereby denying US air power the success it had achieved with other targets on the critical infrastructure list.
As a consequence, US air power needed to innovate and find a new way to regain the combat advantage. Trials with new combat techniques and weapons ultimately led to the development of the Pave Way laser-guided bomb. Pave Way would relieve the aircrew of some of the stresses of target acquisition, weapon delivery, and survivability under fire to become an enduring legacy design for modern air power.