Israeli defense officials announced the second successful test of their Arrow 3 missile defense system Friday.
The news comes amid new reports that Hizballah has moved sophisticated missiles piece-by-piece into storage facilities in Syria and Lebanon. The long-range missiles are considered much more advanced than Hizballah's existing arsenal of 100,000 unguided missiles, and are capable of striking ships, bases and fighter planes, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The weapons are Russian and Iranian made. Last year, the New York Times reports, a Syrian military officer who wanted to defect, acknowledged that the weapons were being dismantled and sent to Hizballah-controlled territory "for safekeeping."
Hizballah, at Iran's direction, has been fighting against rebels in Syria who want to topple dictator Bashar al-Assad. When Assad looked vulnerable, the weapons transfers to Hizballah grew more aggressive. In addition, Iran sees Hizballah's rockets as its "first line of defense" against potential Israeli airstrikes against Iran's nuclear weapons program, the Journal reports.
It cites current and former American intelligence sources who say that Iran's elite Quds Force is directing the weapons system shipments. They took to moving the missile systems in sections after Israel launched five air strikes against weapons convoys in Syria throughout 2013.
The Arrow 3 system sends anti-ballistic missiles into space, where they fly much faster, before locking in on the incoming target and aiming for a head-on collision, the Jerusalem Post reports. Friday's test did not involve intercepting a missile, but did send rockets outside the earth's atmosphere to test engines and maneuverability.
Officials hope to have the system fully operating by 2016. Another missile interception system called David's Sling could be operating next year. They would augment the existing Iron Dome system which can pick off short-range rockets.