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Quasi-steady and two-dimensional unsteady formulations of the problem on the operation cycle of a pulse detonation engine are derived. A formula for the specific impulse is obtained, and the thrust performance of the engine is calculated. It is found that the thrust performance of this engine for flight Mach numbers M ∈ [0; 3.6] and compression ratios p2/p1 ∈ [1; 80] are always higher than those of the ramjet and one-spool turbojet. As the compression ratio increases, the advantage of the pulse detonation engine becomes less noticeable.