In the face of Iran's continued race towards nuclear power, as well as growing tensions with Syria, the Israel Air Force will hold an exercise in the coming weeks to test the Arrow missile defense system's capability in tracking an advanced Iranian Shihab 3, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The test will be held over the next few weeks and will test the capabilities of the Green Pine Radar - an integral part of the Arrow missile defense system - as it tracks a missile made by Rafael - called Black Sparrow - that mimics an upgraded version of Iran's Shihab 3 ballistic missile. Defense officials said that the Black Sparrow would be fired by an IAF fighter jet off Israel's coast. The missile will mimic a Shihab 3 carrying a split warhead and with advanced radar evading capabilities. The Green Pine Radar will attempt to locate and identify the incoming missile and the Citron Tree battle management center will then relate the information to the Arrow battery. A missile will not be fired in the exercise. News of the planned drill came Thursday as defense officials tried to downplay reports of renewed tension with Syria amid reports that Damascus - fearing an Israeli attack - has been beefing up its forces along the Lebanese border and calling up reserves. Defense officials said that the planned simulation was part of the Arrow's annual test program and was not connected to intelligence concerning an imminent conflict with any of Israel's neighbors. Later in the year, the IAF plans to hold another drill, during which it will test-fire an Arrow missile to try and intercept an incoming missile. Two weeks ago, the defense establishment decided to press forward with the development and production of Arrow 3, a more advanced version - in terms of speed, range and altitude - of the current Arrow 2 version in IDF operation. Israel last tested its Arrow missile in February 2007. Two weeks ago, Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Pinhas Buchris visited Washington DC for meetings with Pentagon officials to discuss continued American funding for the Arrow, which is built in cooperation with Boeing. Officials would not reveal how much money was needed to develop the Arrow 3, but said that the cost would reach several hundred million dollars.