The introduction of the new fighter bomber Tornado into service represented an enormous step forward for the Air Force (Aeronautica Militare), which was equipped at that time with the F-104 Starfighter and the residual part of the FIAT G.91R and Y fleets.

The Italian Air Force acquired 99 aircraft, 12 of which were dual control versions, plus one of the pre-series aircraft which had been brought up to production standard. The first aircraft was delivered on 17th May 1982, whilst the last aircraft was delivered in July 1989.