As part of a missile defense capability designed to scan a huge swath of the East Coast and provide precision radar, the Army on Aug. 20 launched a second helium-filled airship in rural Maryland.

The second blimp concludes the aeronautical piece of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS. It was launched at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, roughly four miles from the first. Both are tethered at concrete pads at the facility and float unmanned at 10,000 feet, providing over-the-horizon surveillance.

The 250-foot aerostats are both equipped with radar, one continuously scanning a 360-degree-field from upstate New York to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to central Ohio, and the other carrying precision radar that helps on-the-ground forces pinpoint targets, per an AP report.

The launches are part of a three-year program that will determine how to integrate the aerostats' capabilities into operations at the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The airships contain no cameras or weapons, and are designed to track potential threats such as missiles.