Will US be involved in MH17 crash investigation?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Determining how the Malaysia Airlines jetliner was brought down could take days or even weeks, according to aviation experts.

The crash site is 10-miles long, and a large debris field like that points to an explosion being hit in the air, experts said. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice records on the Boeing 777 are among the most sophisticated made.

"Those two devices hold the best information about what happened in the last minutes prior to the crash," Debbie Hersman, former National Transportation Safety Board chairman, said.

Russian separatists claim to have found the black boxes and have promised to turn them over to the Russian government, which could raise questions about who - in the international community - will have access to the data.

It's not clear yet if the U.S. will be a party to the investigation. Under ordinary circumstances, the NTSB would be involved since the plane was made in the U.S.

And so would the FBI if Americans are confirmed to have been on board that plane. But who would be dispatched and what access they'd have would be under question.

Because the Ukraine is a hotspot of conflict, the U.S. and other nations have overhead satellites monitoring ground activity, and any missile launch would be picked up from above.

"The thrust of that rocket is going to be super-hot and that will trigger a red line on the infrared systems that will allow the analysts to pinpoint in quite precise terms longitude and latitude where the missile was fired from," Professor Robert Pape, University of Chicago, said.

Professor Pape, an international security expert, said for a missile to bring down a jetliner at 33,000 feet, it would most likely have been fired from a truck-mounted platform on a surface-to-air system that requires no small measure of training.

"This is a tragedy of enormous proportions and if the group is involved by shooting a surface to air missile we're going to find those fingerprints and then we'll use the politics of embarrassment to drive a wedge between Putin and the rebels," Pape said.

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