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US defense experts eventually concluded the shoot-down was the result of poor mission planning, which plotted the same flight path over enemy territory four times in a row, and left the stealth aircraft unprotected by electronic countermeasures aircraft.
During this time period I remember a squadron meeting where the Operations Group Commander told us to "be careful what you say over the phone, and pay no attention to the black, pointy shaped aircraft and "others" that were coming to the base."