Initially in the late 60s, the plans of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) called for more than 700 Tornado IDS aircraft to replace with one aircraft type the G.91R utilised for ground attack and the F-104G multirole aircraft.

Ultimately, other considerations resulted in the acquisition of a batch of 88 RF-4E Phantom in the photographic reconnaissance version to replace the F-104G and another further batch of 175 F4-F Phantoms, distributed to two air defence and two air-to-ground units. Consequently the number of Tornado aircraft was reduced to a total of 245 aircraft, including the 35 new-build Tornado ECR plus 112 aircraft for the German Navy (Marineflieger). The first unit to be equipped with the Tornado received its aircraft on 9th November 1981, whereas the last operational IDS aircraft was delivered 1987 and the final aircraft optimised to the Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance role was delivered in 1992.