The first unit to be equipped with the aircraft was the Waffenausbildungskomponente (WaKo) in Erding, 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 The Tornado has been replaced by the Eurofighter in 2010 and JaboG 31 "B" renamed to Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31 "B" (TaktLwG 31"B") on 1st October 2013. 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. JaboG 32 has been disbanded in 2013. 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 until now (renamed Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33/TaktLwG 33). The final operational unit receiving the new Tornado was the Memmingen based JaboG 34 in October 1987. JaboG 34, called JaboG 34 "Allgäu" since 1992, performed its role of conventional attack until its disbandment in mid-2003.

The 112 ordered Tornados for naval operations (Marineflieger) were issued to two naval 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 (MFG 1 in 1993, MFG 2 in 2005) 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 there. AG51 "I" in its classic role of reconnaissance is equipped with 39 Tornados in the variants ECR, RECCE and IDS. Due to the realignment of the Bundeswehr, AG51 has been renamed to Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 "I" (TaktLwG 51 "I") in 2013. 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. With the disbandment of the GE training center in Holloman in 2019, the training of GE aircrews was moved to TaktLwG 51 "I", Schleswig.  

Squadron Version Base Operations
JaboG 31 IDS Nörvenich 1983-2010
JaboG 32 IDS/ECR Lechfeld 1984-2013
JaboG 33/TaktLwG 33 IDS Büchel/Cochem 1985-
JaboG 34 IDS Memmingen 1987-2003
JaboG 38 IDS Jever 1984-2005
AG 51 "I"/TaktLwG 51 "I" IDS/ECR Jagel 1993-
WTD 61 IDS/ECR Manching 1981-
F.T.C. IDS Holloman (USA) 1996-2019
MFG 1 IDS Jagel 1982-1993
MFG 2 IDS Eggebek 1986-2005