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 Russia had a dozen Su-25s located in Syria to provide close support for ground forces and it was deemed the best suited to launch assaults on ground based targets. In November 2015 Russia stepped up its attacks in Syria on ISIS after bombings in Paris, on anti- Syrian forces and Turkeys shooting down an Su-24. The Su-25 along with various bombers and helicopters were used to prop up the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, a major Russian ally in the area.