Have you ever seen the US Air Force Thunderbirds put on an airshow? They’re pretty good. If you can’t catch a Blue Angels airshow, they make a fine second string team.
At some point during the team’s performance, the narrator will mention that the F-16s of the Thunderbirds are combat capable aircraft, needing only 72 hours to be ready to fight. That’s been a stock phrase they’ve used for decades.
If the Air Force was really hurting for F-16 airframes, the Air Combat Command (back then, known at Tactical Air Command, or TAC) could probably generate plenty of airframes from other sources first, but theoretically, TAC could tap the T-birds to provide a combat ready jet.
It was 1988; the USAF Thunderbirds were tasked by Gen Robert Russ, who was Tactical Air Commander (TAC) at the time, to put one of our Thunderbird aircraft into combat configuration in the allotted
(mandated) 72 hour period, a task never done before on the team.
To make a long story short, the maintenance boys and girls, worked their backsides off and had the aircraft ready in less than 72 hours with the only exception being that the jet wasn’t painted (in the combat scheme).
The aircraft tail number selected for this event was Thunderbird Number 10 which was 81-0679.
There’s a lot more at the link, but suffice to say, that’s the only armed Thunderbird I’ve ever seen.