U.S. planes bomb targets in North Vietnam, but refrain from bombing Hanoi and the Soviet missile sites that surround the city. On June 17, two U.S. Navy jets downed two communist MiGs, and destroyed another enemy aircraft three days later. U.S. planes also dropped almost 3 million leaflets urging the North Vietnamese to get their leaders to end the war.
These missions were part of Operation Rolling Thunder, launched in March 1965, after President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a sustained bombing campaign of North Vietnam. The operation was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of the North Vietnam and to slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. During the early months of this campaign, there were restrictions against striking targets in or near Hanoi and Haiphong, but in July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include the bombing of North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities. In the spring of 1967, it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas.
The White House closely controlled Operation Rolling Thunder and at times President Johnson personally selected the targets. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson halted it entirely on October 31, 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.