In 1999 Russia decided to upgrade their aging Su-25 aircraft with actual work beginning in 2001. The first of the upgraded aircraft designated Su-25SM (Stroyevoy Modernizirovannyi) Grach (Rook) flew on March 3, 2002 with the first six modernized aircraft entering service with the Russian Air Force in December 2006. The idea behind the modernization was to expand the life of the Su-25, make it All-Weather capable, more lethal and reduce operating and maintenance cost. Increased ordnance loads and a wider selection were also added.
In September 2015 twelve Russian Su-25SM Frogfoot aircraft had been deployed to Hmeimim (Khmeimim) airbase in Latakia province, Syria to support the Syrian Government in its battles with ISIS and opposition forces. This was seen as an opportunity to test the Su-25SM in actual combat conditions. Before leaving Syria in April 2016 the Su-25SM had flown 1,600 sorties and dropped 6,000 bombs, mostly un-guided. In October 2016 the Frogfoot would once again return to Syria but this time they were the latest up-graded variant, the Su-25SM3 “Super Rook”.