UP to 1,500 high-quality engineering jobs will be created when the world’s largest aerospace company creates a “centre of excellence” at Boscombe Down, the Journal can exclusively reveal.

Boeing Defence UK told staff yesterday it plans to base its UK operations — including the servicing of 50 new Apache attack helicopters — at the Ministry of Defence airbase eight miles north of Salisbury.

The leading manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft is looking to expand its UK workforce from 1,300 to 4,000 by 2025.

And approximately 1,500 of those jobs will be based at Boscombe, the Journal understands.

It comes after the MoD ordered 50 of Boeing’s latest generation AH-64E Apaches for the British Army last year, as well as nine Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Air Force.

Since the deal was agreed, Boeing has been looking for a new servicing and maintenance base for its fixed-wing and rotary aircraft in the UK, and had a choice between Cardiff and Boscombe.

Now the firm has chosen Boscombe, where it will operate alongside defence technology firm QinetiQ.

The new facility will be the firm’s largest investment in the UK since it first came here in 2007.

Salisbury MP John Glen said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear this news from Boeing.

“I have been working with QinetiQ and Baroness Scott [Wiltshire Council leader] over many months towards this decision.

“It is a massive vote of confidence in the south Wiltshire defence economy and will bring many hundreds of high-quality jobs for our young people for many years into the future.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Boeing and QinetiQ to ensure that the training and education facilities develop to meet their needs, but I’m certain this decision will bring a real boost to the Salisbury and south Wiltshire economy.”

A Boeing spokesman said: “What Boeing Defence UK has announced is an intention to develop a ‘centre of excellence’ for its UK business at MoD Boscombe Down. We will now start the detailed planning phase to determine how and when we do this.”

The firm behind the Chinook helicopter and the B-52 bomber, as well as commercial airliners including the 747, employs more than 150,000 people globally.

Salisbury-based defence analyst and aviation historian Paul Beaver told the Journal: "This is great opportunity because of the highly-skilled jobs which will be created and it was add to the local, as well as national, prosperity agenda.

“Boeing is a world-class player which already has considerable interests in Britain and has recently been awarded contracts, through Government-to-Government agreements, for a replacement for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopter and a new maritime patrol aircraft. This is Boeing giving back to Britain and creating opportunities for local people.”

Baroness Scott said: “I am delighted with the Boeing news and the positive impact that this will have on Wiltshire and its economy.

"I have been involved for many months in discussions with Boeing, QinetiQ, central government departments and the local MP, John Glen to achieve this outcome.

“Having a company with the worldwide reputation of Boeing committing to the delivery of a centre of excellence and choosing Wiltshire over other sites is something to be really proud of.

“The announcement brings with it the promise of the creation of a significant number of excellent engineering jobs which will be a huge opportunity; particularly for young people in the county.

"I look forward to continuing to work closely with Boeing, QinetiQ and John Glen to deliver this important project.”