PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is growing international outrage over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the skies over war-torn Ukraine.

Officials are focusing on the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, and local experts are explaining how this could have happen.

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Latest On The Investigation:

The United States confirmed Friday what had been speculated after the crash on Thursday. There’s evidence that a surface-to-air missile caused the tragedy.

“They are quote ‘a sitting duck,’” said Dr. Peter Gall from West Virginia University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Dr. Gall is familiar with the surface-to-air system that brought down the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

While the debate goes on about whether a passenger plane was mistaken for a military plane, the decision to fire at a plane was deliberate, says Dr. Gall.

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“The average person cannot operate a system like this because you have an aircraft moving along at 550 miles an hour, and then you have the missile, which has a cruise speed of Mach 3 – that’s about 2,000 miles per hour,” he said. “And so the operator, with his experience, basically puts it on a course such that it’ll hit the target.”

KDKA’s Harold Hayes Reports:

Aviation expert Craig Conroy says the unwitting passengers may never have known what hit them, not having much time in a passenger airliner to react.

“There may not be. If it hit the last third of the plane, he may have not even seen it hit the plane. It’s just ultimate surprise, depending on the angle of attack. The angle that it hit the plane.. Do damage would take it down, but they’d wonder what the heck happened,” said Conroy. “And more than likely, the passengers didn’t see anything. They were subject to what happened instantaneously.”

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