The first unit to be equipped with the aircraft was the Waffenausbildungs-Komponente (WaKo), receiving its first aircraft on 9th November 1981. The unit´s aim was to finalise the training in the use of the armament for the first German aircrew and, following a move to Jever on 26th August 1983 it was re-organised as Jagdbombergeschwader (JaboG) 38 “Friesland”, retaining its mission of aircrew weapons conversion until its disbandment in 2005. The next unit to receive the Tornado was JaboG 31 “Boelcke”, which recorded the arrival of its first aircraft at Noervenich on 26th July 1983. Specialising in ground attacks, JaboG 31 “B” commenced operations with the new MW-1 runway denial munition in November 1984. The third unit, JaboG 32 in Lechfeld, received its aircraft on 27th July 1984 and, from May 1991, as a consequence of the arrival of the first Tornado ECR, began to re-distribute its IDS aircraft to other units. Another attack unit to replace its Starfighters with the Tornado IDS was JaboG 33 at Buechel, taking delivery of its first aircraft in August 1985, continuing its traditional role of conventional attacks. The final operational unit receiving the new Tornado was the Memmingen-based JaboG 34 in October 1987.
The 112 ordered Tornados of the Marineflieger (German Navy) were issued to two wings, Marinefliegergeschwader (MFG) 1 at Schleswig-Jagel on 02nd July 1982 and MFG 2 at Eggebeck in September 1986. The changing strategic priorities and the continued contraction of the defence budget resulted in the decision to disband both of the units and the transfer of some of the remaining Tornados to the Luftwaffe beginning 1993 until June 2005. After the end of naval operations at Schleswig-Jagel air base in 1993, the Aufklärungsgeschwader (AG) 51 “Immelmann” was reconstituted. Following the closure of the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) in RAF Cottesmore in March 1999, all initial and weapons conversion training of German air crews was concentrated at the Ausbildungsstaffel Tornado at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, USA.