Academics in the region are urging the Ministry of Defence to build a new national defence training centre at RAF Cosford and save up to 1,200 local jobs.
An estimated £45.4 million could be added to the regional economy annually if the site, between Telford and Wolverhampton, is chosen.
But hundreds of existing jobs will be lost if a rival possible site in St Athan, South Wales, is chosen instead.
Professor Caroline Gipps , the new Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, is leading a consortium of Midlands' universities backing Cosford's bid.
The campaign, organised by the West Midlands Higher Education Association, is also backed by Aston, Birmingham and Warwick universities, among others.
Prof Gipps said: "Cosford is a significant influence on the local economy, accounting for almost 2,000 direct jobs, plus approximately 500 indirect jobs in the sub-regional economy.
"That economy is already under stress following the closure of MG Rover and substantial redundancies scheduled to take place at the Army Base Repair Organisation in Donnington."
She said the higher education sector in the West Midlands offered the expertise to support a training base at RAF Cosford.
It would benefit the region's existing aerospace industries, she added.
RAF Cosford is the current headquarters for Defence Colleges of Aeronautical Engineering training.
If it wins the contract, communications and information systems training will also then be based at the site.
A decision is expected from Whitehall by September.
Industry is also supporting the RAF Cosford bid, with a "Let's Fly Cosford" campaign led by Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency.
Cosford was chosen as a technical training base for the RAF in the 1930s, and during the Second World War, over 70,000 engine and airframe mechanics and armourers attended courses there.
It currently trains technicians for both the RAF and the armed forces of other countries.