On 26 March 1969, four partner nations – United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, agreed to form a multinational company, Panavia Aircraft GmbH, to develop and manufacture a Multi Role Aircraft (MRA), later renamed as the Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA).  RCA. The project's aim was to produce an aircraft capable of undertaking missions in the tactical strike, reconnaissance, air defence, and maritime roles; thus allowing the MRCA to replace several different aircraft then in use by the partner nations. Various concepts, including alternative fixed-wing and single-engine designs, were studied while defining the aircraft. The Netherlands pulled out of the project in 1970, citing that the aircraft was too complicated and technical for the RNLAF's preferences, which had sought a simpler aircraft with outstanding manoeuvrability.  An additional blow was struck by the German requirement reduced from an initial 600 aircraft to 324 in 1972.

When the agreement was finalised, the United Kingdom and West Germany each had a 42.5% stake of the workload, with the remaining 15% going to Italy; this division of the production work was heavily influenced by international political bargaining. The front fuselage and tail assembly was assigned to BAC (now BAE Systems) in the United Kingdom; the centre fuselage to MBB (now EADS) in West Germany; and the wings to Aeritalia (now Alenia Aeronautica) in Italy.  Similarly, tri-national worksharing was used for engines, general and avionic equipment. A separate multinational company, Turbo-Union, was formed in June 1970 to develop and build the RB199 engines for the aircraft, with ownership similarly split 40% Rolls-Royce, 40% MTU, and 20% FIAT.

At the conclusion of the project definition phase in May 1970, the concepts were reduced to two designs; a single seat Panavia 100 which West Germany initially preferred, and the twin-seat Panavia 200 which the RAF preferred and which would become the Tornado. The aircraft was briefly called the Panavia Panther, the project soon coalesced towards the two-seat option.  In September 1971, the three governments signed an Intention to Proceed (ITP) document, at which point the aircraft was intended solely for the low-level strike mission, where it was viewed as a viable threat to Soviet defences in that role.  It was at this point that Britain's Chief of the Defence Staff announced "two thirds of the fighting front line will be composed of this single, basic aircraft type".

Source: Wikipedia