US Bombing Data For Laos

May 29, 2006
For those that are interested in finding out how heavily specific areas in Laos where bombed by the US, you can download the data from the link at the bottom of this post and view it in Google Earth. The data only covers general purpose bombs dropped by the US Airforce (not Royal Lao, Thai, etc), and also does not include cluster bombs, but is a good indication of the intensity of bombing activity of all sorts I suppose.

It was pretty damn interesting/cringe-inducing comparing our GPS tracks in southern Laos with this bombing data. We took the risk of UXO pretty seriously, but looking at the intensity of some of the bombing targeted at the roads we were actually on, it was a real wake up call.

For instance, this village was just one series of craters:

But the bombing near the village was child's play compared to the intense bombing that occured down towards the nearby river (we had been intending to head in this direction, but were given clear directions for another route so turned around):

We rode right through a US "interdiction point" in this valley (the obscured blue line is where we rode). We found out later that this section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail was very important pre-1973 as it was used to supply the North Vietnamese Army in a big area south of the DMZ in Vietnam - so this bottle-neck was hammered by the US. Each tower of bombing locations is a few thousand general purpose bombs, I hate to think of the number of live cluster bombs laying about around here.

The data files were "produced from an updated copy of the US Air Force Bombing Database for SE Asia provided by the US Embassy in Vientiane, Lao PDR in April 2006 to the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD)."

Each dot is a bombing run, and has the following information:

LATITUDE. Degrees Latitude. Degree Decimal format. WGS 1984 horizontal datum
LONGITUDE. Degrees Longitude. Degree Decimal format. WGS 1984 horizontal datum
DATE. Date of Combat Mission
LAT_IND60. Degrees Latitude. Degree Decimal format. Indian 1960 horizontal datum
LON_IND60. Degrees Longitude. Degree Decimal format. Indian 1960 horizontal datum
NUM_ACRFT. Quantity of aircraft involved in the mission [numeric]
AIRCRAFT. Type of aircraft involved in the mission. e.g. F-4, A-4
LOAD_QTY. Quantity of Ordnance expended / jettisonned [numeric]
LOAD_LBS. Weight of Ordnance expended. [numeric] CAUTION - this field should not be considered accurate.
ORDNANCE. Ordnance type. Specific type, eg. MK-82 HDGP.
ORD_CLASS. Ordnance class. Less specific, e.g. MK-82 500 LB Bomb
CATEGORY. Ordnance category. Generic, e.g. General_Purpose
TARGET. Target of mission. e.g. Motor Vehicle, Bridge,
BDA. Bomb Damage Assessment. Destroyed, No Damage, Unobserved

For more information about the data and to download the files for various areas in Laos go to: ... 39/page/vc

N.B. There is so much data in the bombing files that it can be really slow to move about Google Earth when you have them open, just open one province at a time.


Oct 6, 2006
In addition to this interesting linked file for areas bombed in Laos, is the the link below which illustrates and discusses areas bombed in Cambodia:

...."The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history."