The radar was made by Raytheon who previously described it on their website as a radar "originally designed to collect intelligence data against ballistic missiles". The website has since then been removed by request of the Pentagon.
The radar, which uses a mechanically steered 27-meter dish antenna, is believed to have similar, though probably somewhat more limited, capabilities as the newer American Sea-based X-band Radar used in the Anti-ballistic missile system.
In April 1998 a Norwegian journalist, Inge Sellevåg, from the daily newspaper Bergens Tidende discovered that NASA had no knowledge of a new radar being added to the system. This led him to suspect it had other purposes and Mr. Sellevåg discovered that it was also going to be used for national purposes such as intelligence gathering .
In 2000, during a storm, the radome was torn off and uncovered the radar-dish. At that time the it was pointing directly towards Russia. A local newspaper editor commented: "I'm not an expert, but I thought space was in the sky.". Official comments claimed that the radar was still being tested and that it pointed towards Russia was a pure coincidence. The Russian general Leonid Ivashov said in a statement to the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, that Russia had programmed tactical nuclear weapons to attack the radar station.
Today, it is believed that Globus II has an important role in the US anti-ballistic missile system. Located near the Russian border it is highly capable of monitoring and building a signature database of Russian missiles. In addition, Vardø is well placed for the radar to collect precision data on the warheads and decoys carried by possible Russian, future Iranian (and, formerly, Iraqi) missiles fired toward the United States. These considerations, together with the questionable nature of the advantages of Globus II as a space surveillance sensor, have led to even more controversy, including a series of official complaints by Russia.