It was a revolutionary design, combining properties of an armoured personnel carrier and a light tank. The Soviet military leadership saw any future wars as being conducted with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Unprotected infantry in such a conflict would soon be either killed or incapacitated by radiation or chemical and biological agents. A vehicle like the BMP would allow infantry to operate from the relative safety of its radition shielded interior in contaminated areas, and to fight alongside it in uncontaminated areas.
The BMP-1 was first tested in combat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War where it was used by Egyptian and Syrian forces. Based on lessons learned from this conflict and early experiences in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, an improved version, the BMP-2 was developed. It was accepted into service in August 1980. It was first shown publicly during the November 1982 Moscow parade.
In 1990, the BMP-3, a radically redesigned vehicle with a completely new weapon system, entered service in limited numbers with the Russian army.