Is there a way we can increase or decrease the probability that many classical UFO sightings are indeed manufactured by man.
In doing so we must keep a few things in mind.
A) There is no way to feasibly eliminate a possible explanation. Unless that explanation is patently absurd. That the classical UFO is man made is not an absurd notion.
B) No government or corporate entity would spend 50 plus years developing a technology without a very lucrative result.
So with that being said I think there are some questions we can ask and provide counter-evidence for. By counter-evidence I mean evidence that suggests they are not a product of man in his current state of technological sophistication. We can do this by identifying the characteristics of the reported craft and possible uses for which this technology would be invaluable.
A quick note. As Friedman is quick to point out, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." In pursuing this particular aspect we have to keep this firmly in mind else we fall into the same false logic trap many debunkers find themselves. However, identifying many needs that such technology would fill and assessing their probable value to the the associated field may yield an ability to largely decrease the probability that they are man made craft.
To my mind, the easiest way to show this is by looking at the U.S. military. The collective U.S. military has far and away the largest budget of any military in the world. Comprising the sum greater than many nations GDP. Through entities like DARPA and R&D programs with top military contractors that specialize in weapon and transportation development the U.S. military has been the progenitor to a great many technological applications that have eventually found their way to the private sector. This is a natural progression. Those with the money get the benefits of technological advances first. Then, after a period of time, the contractor will take elements of the development and infuse them in product lines with less security and greater depth of market. GPS technology is a great example as is night vision technology. Therefore, I assert that the U.S. military would be heavily involved in the development of such craft.
At this point we can start to identify the characteristics of the craft reported in most sightings. Then we can ask what roles in military service such a craft would fill.
1- Sizes ranging from 20 or 30 feet in diameter to over 1 mile. (I will use the classical sighted craft for this argument.)
2- The craft is able to hover
3- The craft is able to ascend or descend vertically or horizontally at speeds from the very slow to the thousands of miles an hour
4- The craft is able to make non-aerodynamic maneuvers. (ie. right angle turns and instant acceleration to many mach without producing a sonic boom )
5- The craft are reported to be very quiet or outright silent
6- the craft can land in many different types of terrain and may possess the agility to maneuver horizontally at low altitude around possible obstructions.
Ok, now we have our characteristics criteria. So lets start to identify military roles such a craft with these characteristics would be suited... if any. :-)
1- Covert Insertion and Extraction. This is a Special Forces Commanders wet dream. A craft of these characteristics would simply be used for EVERY SINGLE deployment. BAR NONE! This sort of a delivery and extraction platform would be so heavily utilized by the special forces it would be as if there were no other forms of insertion and extraction. The ability to silently and quickly deploy to a target location, execute the mission, and silently extract what special forces is all about. This craft would be purchased in bulk and utilized to death.
2- Battlefield Emergency Medical Evacuation. Thousands of soldiers die because they could not get medical attention for theor wounds quick enough. Though this particular issue has benefitted greatly from medical, communication, training, and transportation advances in the past several decades, this type craft in different configurations could dramatically reduce the "time to treatment" for injured soldiers. I can see a faster, silent, air ambulance to transport an injured soldier to a another larger craft big enough to house a few operating rooms for a sort of hovering emergency hospital. Each soldier represents a very large monitory and time investment by our military. Absolutely no commander sends his/her troops into harms way without medical contingency planning. This is equal parts asset economy and moral duty. Especially in todays complex media-centric society. Unlike any other war or action in U.S. history, now every soldier has a face and name for the local media outlet to bring to the masses. This causes the pentagon a PR hit, recruiting suffers, budgets get harder to justify, and blame needs to be assigned possibly hindering or ending careers. All of this can be avoided if the soldier lives. Yes, it is tragic that a soldier was irreparably injured but one can easily justify with the fact that they knew they could be killed going in. After all it is the military. But, when a soldier dies, he/she suddenly becomes a son or daughter. Therefore, it is very easy to understand that any technology that shows promise in saving lives would be quickly and efficiently utilized.
3- Battlefield Surveillance. This usage is just blatantly obvious. But, for the sake of completeness I will throw an idea out. One craft could house a multitude of surveillance and counter-surveillance hardware to deploy against a target at just about any location in any weather regardless of terrain. In my opinion, this is a mission the craft is currently utilized for by the occupants of the craft.... whoever they might be.
4- Combat Resupply. For a good primer on possible advantage such a craft would have in regards to this all but overlooked issue one needs only to look at the circumstances encountered during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Pinned down and under constant fire from all sides Army Rangers, Delta operators, 4 Navy SEALS and a few Air Force Pararescue troopers were essentially fighting to honor the code of "No One Left Behind" as they tried to secure a perimeter around at least two downed helicopters. (there were actually 4 downed birds that day, only 2 in the city) As they fought, the enemy fire kept resupply efforts stalled and the men were quickly running out of ammunition, water, and medical supplies. In this type scenario a craft could shoot in and drop a payload with pinpoint accuracy and accelerate instantaneously away before taking to much if any enemy fire. The silence of the craft would also help to decrease the possibility of alerting the enemy to your goal.
5- CAS (Close Air Support). A squad of soldiers is pinned down with a sheer cliff at their back and they are engaging a numerically superior superior force as close as 15 or 20 yards away. They need help and quick. So, the commander calls for CAS. High above a C-130 gunship get the call for help, or its an apache helicopter, or an F-16....whatever, they com in and fire on the opposing force (hopefully) with accuracy (again, hopefully) eliminating or significantly reducing the threat. Gunships are inaccurate behemoths better suited to destroying a tank or supply column. Fighter craft are too fast and their rate of sustained fire is too low. Several passes are required allowing for the enemy to scatter and an industrious enemy to prepare to take down the fighter. The helicopter is currently your best friend in this scenario. The major problems are their limitations in altitude higher than 10,000 ASL (at seal level) where the air is too thin to provide stability. Also, they are very loud and alert the enemy to what is about to happen allowing them to take cover. The helicopters ability to stay on station and deliver a constant rate of fire on target from a hovering or slow moving low altitude is a huge advantage. But, the disadvantage is that it is a relatively slow lumbering beast when leaving the fight making it a nice target for enemy forces. Obviously a craft possessing the characteristics above would be or great use here. It would, by virtue of its silence, speed, and maneuverability help to save the lives of hundreds of soldiers and strike fear in the enemy.
6- Rapid Troop Deployment. With a craft that can travel at those speeds and with that range of sizes one could easily imagine the ability to transport an appropriate number of troops to a given location in a very short amount of time. The concept of rapid deployment is a key issue in military theory dating into pre-history. You do not need to be Sun Tzu to understand the benefits of quickly deploying troops to a location that affords you a great advantage and in a strength large enough to seize that advantage. Such a craft would easily allow the battlefield commander to deploy a sufficient force to areas of increased activity or to a strategic location. As this is a tenet of military theory from any age such a craft would be immediately utilized for this purpose.
7- Fighter/Attack Aircraft. Every fighter or attack aircraft in the history of war flight has had to deal with the limitations imposed by the laws of aerodynamics. Thrust and lift have to be utilized to overcome gravity. So could the military use a craft that is 5 or 10 times faster than any enemy aircraft and can easily out-maneuver aerodynamic craft? Of course they could. Modern warfare begins with a concept called Air Superiority. If you control the sky then you can use this medium for things like resupply, troop movement, surveillance, and attack. Without air superiority these concepts become many orders of magnitude harder to accomplish. Any halfway decent battlefield commander knows that gaining control over the airspace is essential to a swift victory.
8- Psychological Warfare. We have a craft that has the following characteristics (See the list above). The C-130 Gunships are affectionately known as Steal Rain by the Afghan forces. They have an almost boogie man mystique there. For good reason. They fly at night and using FLIR technology and the careful application of .50 caliber vulcan cannons, 20mm guns, and guidance assisted rockets rain pure destruction from the sky. This one platform is an enormous tool in the psychological warfare game. It effectively says, "If you gather in groups to attack our interests, this craft will find and destroy you before you have a chance to take cover". Unfortunately, it is big, noisy, and largely inaccurate. This coupled with the rules of engagement (it can only engage an enemy target at night) and the ridiculous red tape of communicating with ground troops from another branch of service, has been the cause of more than a dozen friendly fire deaths in Afghanistan alone. Sorry, that is a big pet peeve. I digress. Such a device would not only be a devastating morale killer in the enemy but a huge morale booster for the U.S. Military.
9- Mission Specific Mobile Weapons Platform. This is a role is currently filled by a variety of helicopters or converted light cargo aircraft like the C-130 from the air and the ubiquitous stalwart of military ground transportation the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) more commonly known as the Humvee. This is a very broad spectrum of possible configurations. I include it because such flexibility in mission configuration would cause any battlefield command to salivate uncontrollably. Imagine a single craft that could afford kitting for both ground, sea, and air missions. This may not seem sexy, but it would be the Holly Grail of military hardware.
I could have come up with 10 or probably 100 things to prove my point but I'm tired and want to go to bed. My point in all this is to show that there are at least 9 serious issues that the military could solve with the advent of that single piece of technology. The fact that not one of these is being filled by this technology or a obvious element of its technology then we can safely reduce the probability of these craft being man made to a very low number. All but non-existent.
If you are still reading this, then thank you. Sorry for the novel. I just feel strongly the idea that it is all man made craft is not at all correct. Though it remains a possibility, I have to say given this counter-evidence I feel safe in saying that they are not man made. Or at least not man made utilizing our current levels of technology. Let me know if you agree or disagree.