When the Soviet war in Afghanistan broke out the Soviet forces operated BMP-1 IFVs and BMD-1 airborne IFVs. They were both armed with 73 mm 2A28 "Grom" low pressure smoothbore short-recoil semi-automatic gun, 9S428 ATGM launcher capable of firing 9M14 "Malyutka" (NATO: AT-3A Sagger A), 9M14M "Malyutka-M" (NATO: AT-3B Sagger B) and 9M14P "Malyutka-P" (NATO: AT-3C Sagger C) ATGMs and 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank machine gun. Although their armament made for strong anti-tank firepower, it didn't provide sufficient firepower against enemy unarmored vehicles, infantry, firing points and light fortified positions, especially during mountain battles because of low elevation angle of the main gun.
In 1981 the units fighting in Afghanistan started receiving new BMP-2 IFVs. Its 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon with two-belt loading system and very high elevation angle solved some of the serious drawbacks of the 73 mm 2A28 "Grom" gun. Also the 9S428 ATGM launcher was replaced by pintle-mounted 9P135M-1 ATGM launcher with semi-automatic control capable of firing SACLOS guided 9M113 "Konkurs" (AT-5 Spandrel), 9M113M "Konkurs-M" (AT-5B Spandrel B), 9M111 "Fagot" (AT-4 Spigot) and 9M111-2 "Fagot" (AT-4B Spigot B) ATGMs which proved to be much more effective and reliable than the MCLOS guided 9M14 "Malyutka" (AT-3 Sagger), 9M14M "Malyutka-M" (AT-3B Sagger B) and 9M14P "Malyutka-P" (AT-3C Sagger C) ATGMs. Because of that the high command of Soviet airborne forces decided to arm their units with similar vehicles.
In the beginning it became obvious that the hull of BMD-1 was too small for the BMP-2 turret. Therefore it was decided to design two vehicles. The first one was supposed to satisfy the immediate need of a new airborne IFV by modifying the BMD-1/BMP-1 turret, arming it with the same armament as the one on the BMP-2 and then fitting it onto the BMD-1 hull. The second vehicle was supposed to be much bigger to allow fitting of the BMP-2 turret and later became the BMD-3.
The modernized variant of BMD-1 was developed in 1983 and incorporated the new B-30 turret armed with 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon, 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank machine gun and pintle-mounted 9P135M-1 ATGM launcher. After it passed the trials it entered production in 1985.
- BMD-2 (Ob'yekt 916) - The basic model
- BMD-2K (K stands for komandirskaya - command) - Command variant fitted with an additional antennae.
- BMD-2M - BMD-2 modernization. It features a number of improvements including fitting of smoke grenade launchers to the side of the turret.