The design aims of the original S-300P were to produce a strategic area defence SAM system, intended to protect fixed targets such as government precincts, industrial facilities, command posts and headquarters, military bases, strategic and tactical airfields and nuclear sites. This weapon system was to initially defeat SAC's SRAM firing FB-111As, B-52Hs and then anticipated B-1As, and later the Boeing AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile. The deployment model of the first generation systems was based on the existing S-75/SA-2, S-125/SA-3 and S-200/SA-5 systems, with a semi-mobile package of towed trailer mounted radars and missile Transporter Erector Launchers (TEL).
The S-300P introduced some important technological innovations. The first generation V-500/5V55 missile used a single stage solid rocket motor, and conceptually is closest to the baseline US Army MIM-104 Patriot. The missile was deployed and handled in a sealed cylindrical launch tube/canister, with a cold start gas generator used to eject the missile vertically before its motor was initiated. The 5P85 TEL was a semi-trailer arrangement, with the forward booms splayed when deployed as stabilisers. The four launch tubes were mounted on a hydraulically elevated frame, retained in later TEL designs. A typical battery would be equipped with three 5P85 TELs, each with four SAMs, or double the SAM complement of the S-75/SA-2 it replaced and permitting 2 rounds per launch.