Stunning Pentagon videotapes yesterday made Americans front-row spectators to the performance of advanced bombs that use lasers and computers to bring sharpshooter accuracy to a type of weapon previously notorious for missing targets.

One tape aired repeatedly on television showed two bombs flying straight through doors of a Scud missile bunker. Another appeared to show a bomb going down an air shaft of Baghdad's air defense headquarters and blowing all four walls out.

With fins and tiny wings, the bombs are in fact high-speed gliders that deliver 2,000 pounds of high explosives. Fourteen feet long, they turn, dive or even climb in response to on-board commands as they speed toward a spot of laser light that their plane shines on the target.

"This puts the truth into surgical bombing," said retired Air Force Col. James P. Coyne, who has flown F-15s equipped with the bombs. Pinpoint hits "have happened before with the older systems," he said, "but it was luck."

Analysts assumed yesterday that the videotapes the Pentagon released show the bombs' most spectacular successes and that some may have failed. Their electronics can burn out, antiaircraft fire can knock out the lasers, and pilots can make mistakes in the heat of battle.

"Whether it's the family photo album or anything else, you pick the best ones to show. You don't show the ones that missed," said a Marine Corps official.

Still, many feel the bombs mark an important advance in aerial warfare, lowering costs and reducing risks to the attacking planes.

Each bomb costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, according to the Air Force, but "the total quantity of bombs that are required to do a specific level of damage is greatly reduced with a precision-guided weapon," said Stew Turner, a technical adviser at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, who has helped develop the bombs. The planes also can drop them from a safer distance, avoiding antiaircraft fire.

According to "Jane's Air-Launched Weapons," the Air Force tested 47 of the newest laser-guided bombs in 1986 and scored 44 "successes." Coyne suggested that hits probably would be somewhat less in the heat of combat.

From the early days of air power, experts have searched for a way to single out targets on the ground.

During World War II, bombsights proved unreliable and air forces often resorted to mass "area bombing" that wiped out entire cities.

Jet bombers in Vietnam had to attack targets repeatedly to destroy them. In the late 1960s, development labs rolled out the first generation of "smart" bombs -- bombs that could be guided in flight using electronic intelligence. In the 1972 air offensive against North Vietnam, U.S. jets carrying the new bombs quickly knocked out a bridge where large numbers of U.S. warplanes had been lost in earlier unsuccessful attacks with "dump" bombs.

"One bomb, one target," was the new slogan.

Since Vietnam, the bombs have been used periodically, notably in Israel's destruction of an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981 and the U.S. air strike on Libya in 1986.

Their capabilities have given birth to new air tactics. For use against "hardened" targets, for example, they can be released at a distance, made to climb temporarily, then descend vertically.

To maximize damage, the bombs can be launched in pairs and timed to follow each other. "You might want to send one {through} the hole made by the first one, so it's a Robin Hood type shot," one aerospace industry source said. "You shoot and split the arrow you just shot."

Staff writer Barton Gellman contributed to this report.