Around 1,200 jobs will be lost if the Ministry of Defence awards a multi-billion pound training contract to Wales instead of the Midlands, business leaders have warned.
John Edwards, Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands, said the region must win its bid to build the new national defence training centre at RAF Cosford, following the damage to the economy caused by the collapse of MG Rover.
Around #45.4 million could be added to the regional economy annually if the site, between Telford and Wolverhampton, is chosen.
Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, is working with MPs and West Midlands Business Council to promote RAF Cosford in an MoD review of training facilities.
The Ministry plans to centralise training for technicians in one national centre.
RAF Cosford has been shortlisted as a potential site ? but it is competing against St Athan, in South Wales.
Mr Edwards was speaking at the RAF Cosford Museum yesterday, where he launched a "Let?s Fly Cosford" campaign.
He said jobs at the site could be doubled, reaching 2,640 by 2010, if it was chosen.
An estimated #600 million would be invested in the site, and the yearly wage bill would be around #45 million.
The new facility Cosford would also provide a Centre of Excellence for the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering and the Defence College of Communications and Information Systems, complementing the region's existing aerospace industries which already play an important role in the regional economy.
A decision on the preferred site is expected to be made by next summer.
Mr Edwards said: "We cannot underestimate just how much Cosford needs to win this crucial and lucrative contract.
"The potential benefits for the county and the wider region are immense.
"We have suffered some extremely serious blows in the West Midlands this year, including the announcement of over 600 job losses at ABRO in Telford and the 6000 job losses at MG Rover.
"A successful bid will ensure that the West Midlands economy remains buoyant and that we can sustain a highly skilled workforce."
The launch was attended by MPs from all parties including Rob Marris (Lab Wolverhampton South West). He said: "We want it to go to RAF Cosford as this would be best for our armed forces as well as the region.
"The training centre would be more cost-effective in the region, where we also have the technical knowledge and skills. The benefits would be immense, not least for our aerospace industry."
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.
The Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford houses one of the largest aviation collections in the UK. Over 70 historic aircraft are displayed in three wartime hangars on an active airfield. The collection spans nearly 80 years.