Interestingly, the IAF had planned to buy three C-17 from the US in April 2015. But the paperwork took a lot of time and the US manufacturer Boeing signed a deal to sell four of the last five C-17 to Qatar. As production of C-17 aircraft at Long Beach in California has ended, the IAF had to revise its purchase plan and settled with one C-17 transport aircraft.
India first signed a contract in 2012 to purchase 10 C-17 aircraft at cost of $4.1 billion with an option of follow on offer to purchase six additional aircraft. India didn't go for the follow on offer because Boeing did not fulfill the terms of the contract. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) — India's apex auditing body — had found massive under-utilization of the aircraft. Of the C-17 aircraft purchased for high load carrying capacity, the non-availability of ground equipment has adversely affected to a large extent.
It is observed that in contrast to claimed in-flight refueling capabilities and range of 4,200 kms with maximum payload of 70 tons and 9,000 kms with reduced payload of 40 tons, CAG observed that annual average load airlifted by C-17 (in India) ranged between 13 tons and 18 tons per sortie, against the aircraft's payload capacity of 70 tons. The operating squadron e stated that C-17 aircraft could carry only 35 tons of load (40 tons in winters) and on a few occasions, only 26 tons.