British aerospace and defense company BAE is expanding its Minnesota operations with a manufacturing facility in Maple Grove.

BAE Systems Land & Armaments plans to hire up to 500 workers. It will be the tenant in a 167,000-square-foot complex Opus Development plans to build in Maple Grove, according to city plans. The facility will house office, manufacturing and warehouse space.

The company already has a facility on East River Road in Minneapolis that is part of its Systems Platforms & Services division. The company makes and supports tanks, combat vehicles, Navy guns and armaments and other military equipment.

The new facility would be in Maple Grove's Gravel Mining Project Area at the northwest corner of the intersection of Hwy. 169 and I-94.

The area is not currently occupied, and as more gravel mining activity phases out over the next 25 to 50 years, city planners said they anticipate more land in the area to open up for development.

Maple Grove has seen more new development of late, including a new Boston Scientific facility. Boston Scientific is the largest employer in Maple Grove. If BAE Systems does bring 500 jobs to the new facility, it would make BAE Systems one of the five largest employers in the city, officials said.

Dubbed Project Libre, the BAE project would be part of a tax increment financing (TIF) district. Requirements for the tax breaks require the project to create a minimum of 200 jobs paying at least 150% of the Minnesota minimum wage. Maple Grove development officials and Opus Development are working on details that are expected to come before the City Council in March.

Because of the mining history in the area it's been designated a soils correction district that requires some remediation work before development.