Boscombe Down is a Ministry of Defence test base operated by Qinetiq and located just outside of Amesbury, Wiltshire. During its time it has seen many notable aircraft being tested from it including the English Electric P 1, the TSR.2 and, more recently, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4. It is currently home to the Empire Test Pilot School who fly a variety of aircraft from Shorts Tucanos to BAC One-Elevens, as well as the Southampton University Air Squadron who fly Grob Tutors which also double up as Air Experience Flying aircraft for local Air Cadet squadrons under the designation 2 AEF. On top of that, the Rotary Wing Test Squadron, Fast Jet Test Squadron, Heavy Aircraft Test Squadron and Handling Squadron are all based at Boscombe Down.
In 2007 it was decided that Boscombe Down would become a quick reaction alert base to provide military air cover for the south coast from spring 2008 onwards, taking over from RAF St Mawgan which had previously had the role. However, fighter aircraft will only ever be stationed there when a threat is present meaning the aerodromes primary role is still as a test base.