The 1st Squadron of Fighter Bomber Wing 32 (321 Squadron) was set to service in 1958 at Lechfeld Airbase and assigned to NATO in 1959. The first aircraft to be flown on the Lechfeld base was the F-84 THUNDERSTREAK. Its era ended 1966 after 80.000 flying hours.
From 1965 until 1984 the legendary F-104 STARFIGHTER flew 200.000 hours on the Lechfeld before the Fighter Bomber Wing 32 started its conversion to the MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft) PA-200 TORNADO in the IDS (Interdictor Strike) version.
In 1991 a new version of the TORNADO was introduced to the Luftwaffe: the ECR (Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance). 321 Squadron was - together with 382 Squadron in Jever - the first operational unit to be equipped with the new aircraft. In 1994 when finally, all the systems, sub-systems and software updates were fitted to the aircraft, the conversion was completed.
The ECR TORNADO is unique in the Luftwaffe. Meanwhile only Fighter Bomber Wing 32 in Lechfeld is equipped with this type of aircraft (and only with the ECR TORNADO). Within NATO the aircraft and its mission is no longer unique (as it was after the F-4G WILD WEASEL were decommissioned until 1999). Now the 50 Stormo at Piacenza in Italy is also equipped with it.
In 1995 ECR TORNADOs were deployed to Piacenza in Italy, in support of the UN missions for peace on the Balkans. Since then, they formed - together with the Recce Tornados from 51st Recce wing (Immelmann) - the Luftwaffe's Operational Wing No. 1 at Piacenza airbase in Northern Italy.
After thousands of flying hours within the framework of UNPROFOR, IFOR and SFOR the Luftwaffe embarked upon its first warlike operation since WW II in March 1999. As part of operation ALLIED FORCE to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, German ECR TORNADOs were employed from the first night to protect other NATO aircraft from surface to air missiles (SAMs). During all the nights and days while a flight of German ECR TORNADOs was present over Kosovo, not one single allied aircraft was hit by a Serb SAM.