Sixteen military units will be disbanded and two air bases closed in troop cutbacks prompted by lessening tensions and escalating economic woes in South Africa, officials said Friday.

President F.W. de Klerk has said defense forces can be reduced because of declining regional tensions, partly linked to the government's plan to end apartheid.Meanwhile, rising prices and a spreading recession have pressured officials to cut military spending - yet still leaving South Africa with the region's most powerful armed forces. Earlier this year, the navy was cut by 25 percent.

Gen. Jannie Geldenhuys, head of the armed services, said 11 air force units and five army units would be disbanded or consolidated. Two air bases will be closed, he said.

The Defense Ministry did not say how many troops would be involved in the cuts or how many would leave the military. South Africa has about 95,000 troops, about two-thirds of whom are conscripts.