The air force has promoted another general from the Lanzhou military region to its senior command headquarters. Lieutenant-General Li Yongde, former commander of the Lanzhou air force, is now a vice-commander of the national air force, which celebrates its 50th anniversary today. Speaking at a Beijing reception to mark the occasion yesterday, air force commander Lieutenant-General Liu Shunyao said the air force would be 'modernised gradually', Xinhua reported. General Li is the third senior officer from Lanzhou to join command headquarters. The others are General Liu and another vice-commander, Lieutenant-General Wang Liangwang. Analysts said the Lanzhou region was significant because of its vast, sparsely populated areas where the air force conducts most of its exercises. 'The Lanzhou region hosts China's nuclear powerhouse, a large flight-testing centre and a missile-testing base,' a defence analyst said. Both PLA Chief of the General Staff General Fu Quanyou and logistics chief General Wang Ke served in Lanzhou before joining the top brass in Beijing. Vice-President Hu Jintao and General Guo Boxiong, latest members of the elite Central Military Commission, had also served in Lanzhou, analysts said. State media continued to trumpet the prowess of the air force yesterday. The Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily said the Guangzhou regional command was now equipped with the latest weapon systems and aircraft. It published a picture of what analysts said was a Sukhoi-27 aircraft acquired from Russia. The additions will enable units 'to carry out military assignments in any weather, any time, in any corner of the motherland when such needs arise', the paper said. Separately, an Israeli official confirmed that Israel is outfitting a Chinese air force plane with an advanced airborne early-warning system that would allow it to conduct long-range radar surveillance and co-ordinate forces during battle. The Soviet-manufactured Ilyushin-50 aircraft had been in Israel for more than two weeks, being fitted with the Phased-Array L-Band Conformal (Phalcon) radar system, the official said. The system is manufactured by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries. Elta designed it for the Israeli air force using a US-manufactured Boeing 707 airliner as a platform.