Along with the growth and development of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) during the mid 1980s came a need to bolster (and eventually replace) the existing fleet of M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). This prompted the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to source for a fleet of armored vehicles to operate in tandem with the current fleet of AMX-13 SM1 light tanks.
With the participation of the SAF, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), MINDEF's systems acquisition house, was appointed to conduct a technology study and recommend the direction for the project. A market survey was conducted in which various armored vehicles including the Warrior Tracked Armoured Vehicle, the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the Schützenpanzer Marder were evaluated. The findings from the market survey showed that none of the off-the-shelf vehicles met the specific requirements of the SAF. Therefore, the decision was made to develop a vehicle locally. Local development was necessary not only because of a lack of suitable off-the-shelf designs, but also as an opportunity to build up the capability of the local defense industry. Known as "BIONIX", the IFV was the product of a tripartite team of engineers and technical staff from Singapore Technologies Automotive, DMO and G5 Army, working jointly with HQ Armour to produce a fighting machine tailored to the specific operational requirements of the Army. Key considerations during the design process included high mobility and agility, low weight, amphibious capability, and adequate protection and firepower.
Development of the Bionix began in 1988. It took several years before leaving the prototyping phase in 1995 and finally being commissioned on 26 March 1997. ST Automotive was awarded a S$2.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) contract in March 1997 to supply several hundred Bionix IFVs to the Singapore Armed Forces. The first production vehicles were inducted by the 42nd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment in July 1999.
The Bionix IFV has since been succeeded by the Bionix II, which entered a trial service with the Singapore Armed Forces in 2005 with a Company from 41 SAR. In October 2006, The Bionix II was declared operational ready with 42 SAR being the first fully equipped Bionix II battalion.