China's new stealth jet just entered service

The PLA Air Force's stealth fighter, the J-20.

The PLA Air Force's stealth fighter, the J-20.

Little known fact — my first novel, Red Cell, was originally named Assassin's Mace. The title stuck through the publishing process far enough that Simon & Schuster even had a version of the cover with that title. But the marketing department changed it at the last minute because someone got worried that readers might mistake it for a Game of Thrones-esque fantasy book. I really don't know that could happen with a Blackhawk helicopter on the cover, but I'm not a marketer; and marketing departments tend to get their way on this sort of thing. 

It didn't bother me much at the time, but I kind of regret the change now. If the book was still named Assassin's Mace, people might connect it far more readily with what's really happening to China's military.

Six years after China's Chengdu J-20 strike aircraft made its first flight, the innovative jet has entered service with the People's Liberation Army's Air Force...Peter Singer, a strategist at New America and author of "Ghost Fleet" — a novel that depicts a World War III situation with China, Russia, and the US — told Business Insider that this fits with a Chinese strategy called "assassin's mace." According to Singer, in the Middle Ages, "Chinese assassins would carry a little mace under their sleeves" when facing a guard armed with a long sword. Instead of the assassin carrying their own long, conspicuous sword to match the guard's strength, they used a mace designed to smash the guard's sword, turning the guard's strength into a weakness.

China's J-20 brings this ancient strategy into the modern world.

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